Nettle, Wild Garlic and Broad Bean Risotto

The dog likes looking for sticks in the garlic…

Carla tweeted me risotto notes the other day on Twitter and has inspired me to make a spring risotto with our wild greens :-

 a Wild Green Spring Risotto

  •  75 – 100 grams of carnaroli rice per person.
  • One dog bag stuffed with fresh nettle tops – they don’t weigh very much but they shrink a bit like spinach so aim for maybe 150 grams or so for two people.
  • To prepare: Wash well, remove any bits of grass or twigs! Steam in a little water till they have gone a darker shade of green and look cooked. Drain, chop coarsely and reserve.
  • As many wild garlic leaves and flowers as you fancy, I used about a dozen big leaves and a few flower heads, chopped into shreds.
  • A good knob of butter
  • A medium sized onion, chopped into small pieces
  • Chicken or vegetable stock – kept at a gentle simmer in a separate pan. If you run out just top up with boiled water as you go along. I usually keep about a litre of liquid going while I make this but often don’t use it all.
  • 2 dessertspoons of cream cheese, mascarpone if you have it, I used a branded cream cheese
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Grated Parmesan or another strongly flavoured hard cheese, ideally Italian.
  • 200 g of baby broad beans, if you have fresh ones, wonderful, but I used frozen ones this time. If you have the patience pop the skins off them as they will look prettier but I didn’t. You could use peas or anything else that takes your fancy, just keep it young and green.


  1. Sweat your onions gently in melted butter or oil or a bit of both for a few minutes, you don’t want them to colour but you do want them to soften a little.
  2. Add half your steamed and chopped nettles. Add rice according to how much you want to make and how greedy you are. Add some of the chopped garlic and turn everything over so it is well coated in butter and the pan is hot.  Once everything looks well coated, start adding the simmering stock, a little at a time, keep stirring gently and constantly. As the stock is absorbed add more.
  3. After about ten minutes, add the broad beans and the rest of the nettles and garlic. Keep stirring. Remember to keep the heat low, you don’t want your risotto to boil while you are cooking it or to burn.
  4. You can also add a big dollop of cream cheese at this point and make sure it all gets mixed in well.
  5. Keep stirring and taste the risotto as you go along, season with salt and pepper to taste – the rice should be a little al dente, with a slight hard core,  when you serve it but again it is all according to taste. Mine took about twenty minutes of stirring all together, from when I started adding the stock.
  6. Just before you serve you can beat in additional butter, grated parmesan or more cream cheese, then top your plate with some finely chopped flat parsley and garlic flowers!

30 thoughts on “Nettle, Wild Garlic and Broad Bean Risotto

  1. ceciliag

    I love risotto but have never used nettles in cooking, i am not even sure if I have any out here, but this does look tasty and we have heaps in NZ so i shall pass this recipe on to the children over there.. ! evening joanna!

    1. Joanna Post author

      Morning Cecila, it’s not something I cook with every day but I was reading about nettles on Wikipedia and there are lots of interesting facts about them. I drank a lot of nettle tea at one point in time as it’s supposed to be good for various ailments.

    1. Joanna Post author

      I would be delighted if you did. If you have never made risotto check out some other people’s recipes as well to compare to this one.

  2. hotlyspiced

    What a wonderful and vibrant looking risotto. I love risotto – wonderful comfort food. I have not cooked with nettles before but would love to try their flavour. Your risotto from foraged goods looks divine xx

    1. Joanna Post author

      They have quite an intense green taste, if you really want to taste them for themselves without ‘interference’ from garlic and cheese etc then I suggest making a soup with them. Thanks for the compliments Charlie :)

  3. Ann Hall

    I just love those photos of Zeb – especially the one with his bottom in the air!
    The risotto looks pretty good too.

    1. Joanna Post author

      Thought it was time for a new header picture Ann. Zeb spends a lot of time in a play bow position, such a happy chap most of the time!

  4. Just A Smidgen

    This is the ultimate springtime risotto.. I love the wild garlic.. herbs.. the color, everything! Well done, Zeb!! xo ps your pup reminds me of those little truffle pigs in France.. foraging…

    1. Joanna Post author

      I would love a truffle poodle, though he might run off with them instead of letting me have them Barbs ! I love the little garlic flowers, they have a bit of bite to them.

  5. bakecakecrumbs

    It does look really beautiful Joanna – whenever I make risotto it comes out grey-brown whatever the flavour! (Ok for mushroom, less enticing for courgette!!!) I think I let the onions brown too much….
    I love the look of your wild garlic – so delicate, even with Zeb’s head buried in it!

    1. Joanna Post author

      It could be the onions, you are probably right, it can be tricky with some hobs to keep the heat low enough for risotto. Keep your eye out for garlic next time you are near somwhere a bit damp. I found some today by the riverside in Cockermouth in the disused mill race ( the channel that the water used to run down to power a mill).

  6. peasepudding

    What a great idea using foraged nettles, we don’t see them much here in NZ but I remember them well enough as a kid being stung by them. I would love to try them in food and get my revenge back on them :0)

    1. Joanna Post author

      I somtimes wonder who first thought of eating these, I imagine our ancestors were very curious ;)

    1. Joanna Post author

      Would the chickens eat nettles ? I think you could use any of the wonderful greens from your yard in a similar dish Celia. Waiting for sun up here xx

  7. Bridget

    Love risotto…we have it fairly often. I usually add nettles to soup…must try it in the next risotto.

    1. Joanna Post author

      Hi Bridget! I picked a few more today, this time with my gloves on ;) I might make soup, and I saw some very dark green ravioli pasta somewhere on my travels.

    1. Joanna Post author

      hello Choc Chip Uru! Nice to meet you :) I made some nettle and pancetta soup last night and put it in the freezer. The nettles should really only be picked when they are young, which means this month. The foodie world has ‘rediscovered’ some of these well known plants, but older generations have always used them, knowledge buried in the mass migration to the cities the majority of us live and work in these days.

  8. thelittleloaf

    I’ve never cooked with nettles – I think I’m too scared I might sting myself somewhere in the process which is stupid really, and I know how delicious they taste. You’ve inspired me!

    1. Joanna Post author

      Once they are wilted down and soft, they definitely don’t sting, up to that point though… And only use the top bit, growing point and pair of leaves immediately below. There has been lots of press this year, though I have yet to meet anyone else picking them, the wild garlic though is getting more and more popular :)

  9. drfugawe

    Is that your hand playing among those nettles? Very brave indeed – or are you one of those immune to their stings? Each year when I hear of the nettles, I’m reminded that they grow with abounding glory hereabouts – but I have yet to seek them out for their delicious rewards. Maybe this year – when it finally stops raining.

    1. Joanna Post author

      It’s Brian’s hand! I wear gloves if I pick nettles, I wrote a bit about it in the post before this one. They are particularly good right now, I made a great soup with nettles, veggies and pancetta yesterday too :)

  10. Sincerely, Emily

    I have been looking but have yet to find nettles in my area. Grew up around them in north. Want to cultivate them along with dandelions so I can cook with them SO SO many good things in them both. I am amazed at the immune boosting and vitamins in all the wild edibles… so much higher than things we are used to growing and eating. I have now growing lambsquarter and purslane. Still need to get dandelion and nettles going. Next spring I guess.

    Your risotto looks w o n d e r f u l !

    1. Joanna Post author

      English gardeners will be astounded to hear you want to cultivate nettles and dandelions !!! But the nettles are fabulous and I like that moment of slight hesitation when you put them in your mouth… will they really not sting???? I don’t know lambs quarter and I think I didn’t have a lot of success with purslane, but what doesn’t work one year might another… I am always optimistic :)

      1. Sincerely, Emily

        Oh yes, many people think I am a bit loopy to grown dandelions and nettles on purpose. But if I can’t find them around here, I might as well plant them. I hope to dry nettles to use throughout the year. There was a trail we used to hike on in Minnesota that was lined with shoulder tall nettles (I was 12) they were amazing. Didn’t know we could eat them at the time. I remember the welts vividly.

  11. Hasenschneck

    How can anyone not have nettles growing nearby?! They are my new discovery for cooking purposes – delicious. So glad to find something that uses wild garlic as well. Thanks.

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