Friday, 7 May 2010

I eat weeds

One of the things I got used to when I had my allotment plot was the weeds, including the edible ones such as stinging nettle. Whilst weeding, one of challenges was getting past the 'pins and needles' like sting that lingered under your skin for hours. I even got courageous and decided to become intimately acquainted with with the taste of cooked young, spring nettles. I have to confess, the flavour was absolutely delightful. It is a unique flavour, one that I cannot easily describe. But I will try, it is peppery, rocket (arugula) and spinach like. It also reminded me of Welsh laver bread.

I read somewhere that you can actually eat nettles raw, but I have not braved that yet. Instead before attempting to eat them in any state, I have washed them, then blanched and drained them. Before chopping them up for whatever dish. In the past it has been used in recipes such as stinging nettle soup and wild nettle gnocchi. Both highly recommended.
The bowl above has actually come from my very own garden. Strange as this time last year, I had none at all and now I have it sprouting here and there. So I feel somewhat blessed. I carefully prized the stinging nettle leaves away from the stalks, they weighed just over 100g. Unfortunately it was not enough to make nettle wine with, so I will have to make a point of foraging for some in the lovely Scottish countryside or wherever the opportunity presents. Anyway, it was enough to make some wild nettle risotto. Wild nettle risotto was the first dish I ever made with stinging nettle and I was totally converted to eating this weed.
If you do decide to pick nettle, firstly wear gloves and try to pick it away from the beaten track, or in locations where traffic, hence pollution is low. When picking them, pick the young tender leaves and wash thoroughly, you don’t know what four legged animal has been near it.
Stinging Nettle Risotto
Serves 2 - 3
2 – 2 ½ pints of vegetable stock
100g nettle leaves
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 shallots
250g Arborio rice
2 – 3 fat cloves of garlic, finely minced
Salt and pepper to taste
Bring the stock to the boil in a large saucepan and drop in the nettles for 30 seconds, remove and cool them under cold water, drain and chop them quite finely. Lower the heat and keep the stock at a low simmer.
In a saucepan, heat the oil, add the shallots and cook until translucent then add in the rice and stir well to coat the grains. Cook the rice gently for a few minutes, stirring often, then add the garlic and nettles and cook for a couple of minutes, before adding a ladle of the stock, and continue to simmer until it is all but absorbed. Add another ladle of stock and carry on stirring until is absorbed and adding more until all of the rice is just cooked and the dish is still moist. This should take about 25 – 35 minutes. Season well and serve immediately with optional grating of hard cheese. Adapted from Denis Cotters Wild Garlic, gooseberries and me.


  1. This looks delicious. I love nettles, it is one of our staples at this time of year, but I've not used them in risotto before. I've got that book somewhere, must dig it out.

  2. Thanks for this recipe, I may give it a go as we have lots of nettles near us as we live near a field - great idea for free food.

  3. Thank you Choclette.
    I am so pleased to learn that you LOVE nettles!
    I am shocked to read that this book is not high on your shelf :D Just kidding. Do check out the recipe though and give it a go. i have changed it quite a bit, less nettles for a start.

    Thank you Sweetpeas.
    I agree great free food!
    Just don't take the little ones to the field with you, you don't want them getting stinged now do you?! We big ones can brave the stings, but the little ones - nay.

  4. Thats a great recipe, I have bookmarked it :)
    Have a nice weekend!

  5. I like it sauteed lightly with chopped tomatoes and garlic.

    I might give the risotto a go.

  6. Mangocheeks,
    you are always so creative. I am always learning something new when I read your blog! Thanks for educating me!

  7. Beautiful! Very industrious. If you can't beat the weeds, learn how to eat them. The only difference between weeds and crops is we've learned what to do with "crops."

  8. eating everything from the garden is like the vegetarian version of eating the whole animal isn't it - the risotto sounds great

  9. My husband tells me stories of growing up in Russia and having to pick nettles as a kid. I haven't had them myself, I don't know how to identify them!

  10. You've inspired me to go pick some of the nettles growing wild here. I had lambs quarters lightly sauted with mushrooms for dinner last night and dandelion salad is on my list of favorites. Never have really tried nettles though.

  11. oh don't worry Mangocheeks, thanks for your concern. They are very used to being stung now due to living near a field for since babies and know how to find a dock leaf to relieve the sting a bit :-)

  12. A lovely recipe. I've had nettles in soup, but risotto sounds much more appealing.

  13. Your risotto sings to me!!

    I so love this lovely combination! Yummm,...

  14. very inspiring! Ill go out and pick some today. Thanks for the recepie.

  15. Thank you so much Rachana.

    Kella. I like your idea. Will keep it in mind.

    Thank you so much Jenn.
    Your blog is very inspirational too.

    Thank you Ginny.
    Wonderfully phrased 'If you can't beat the weeds, learn how to eat them'. I like it! I agree with you. We must learn more about them as we have with "crops."

  16. Johanna.
    Interesting way of describing the edible garden for the vegan or vegetarian. I had never thought of it that way, but I guess your right.

    Personal stories and memories of food from childhood are wonderful. I would recommend nettles really. If you check out this entry. I have a picture of nettles pretty close up. If you click on it, you can see a larger version of the picture. It should give an idea what to look for, plus the stings!

    Thank you so much Kateri. I am ever so delighted. Just please, please wear gloves.
    I have yet to have a go with dandelion salad.

  17. Scented Sweetpeas.
    I want to hang out with your kids - the brave outdoor adventurous ones!

    Thank you so much Laura Nickoll.
    Nettle risotto is really delcious. So please do give it a go.
    I also wanted to say Thank you so much for becoming a follower. I am always humbled.

    I am so happy to read the risotto sings to you. Wonderful.

    Your so welcome Jonna.
    I sincerely do hope you Enjoy!

  18. I've yet to summon the courage to eat nettles but your risotto looks fab so I might try some tomorrow. I have a feeling there will be lots of nettles at the bottom of Plot 35 when I go over there tomorrow.

    People don't really eat them raw, do they?

  19. You are becoming quite the forager Mangocheeks. Your risotto looks absolutely lovely :)

  20. Thank you FlowerPowerGirl.
    I hope you get to make something with nettle in it, just to try the flavour.

    There is actually a salad recipe to eat nettles raw, but i think you have to wait to let the nettle lose its sting.

    Thanks Jacqueline.
    Early stages yet, but I am the easier finds.

  21. I'm finding the nettles around here particularly pretty at the moment: they have such pretty little flowers on them. This recipe sounds lovely.

    Shirl x

  22. Thank you Shirl.
    I have to admit, I don't often get to see the nettles flowering!!! But I agree the little flowers are very pretty.


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