SEATTLE — Most of us know to avoid nettles during our hikes or camping trips, but instead of sidestepping around them, a Pacific Northwest chef is taking matters into his own hands. 

Executive Chef Skyler Gemar from 190 Sunset in Edmonds shares his unique approach to cooking as well as one of his recipes.

Nettle Risotto

I wear gloves when foraging stinging nettles. Some would say this is not the true way to pick nettles, but I’d rather save the stinging for something out of my control.

For this recipe we will be adding a nettle puree to the risotto base. However, this base can be changed to whatever you desire. If you want to make a seafood risotto, simply swap out the vegetable stock for fish or shellfish stock and add your favorite seafood. - Executive Chef Skyler Gemar of 190 Sunset in Edmonds, WA.

Risotto Base

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbls. – Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • ¼ cup - White onions (Small diced)
  • 2 cups - Arborio rice
  • 5 each - Garlic cloves (Minced)
  • ½ cup + ¼ cup - White wine
  • 48 floz. - Vegetable stock (broth)
  • To Taste - Kosher Salt
  • To Taste - White pepper

Instructions:

  1. Dice onions into small dice and mince the garlic cloves.
  2. Add olive oil, rice and onions to pan and saute on low heat. Do not color. Cook until outer edges of rice are clear. The rice will have a small white spec in the middle with clear edges when it is ready for the liquids. Add the garlic and saute in for about one more minute.
  3. Add half of the wine and cook into rice. Add the other half and cook to au sec (almost dry).
  4. Add 2 cups of hot veg stock into the rice. Stir while cooking to au sec. Add 2 more cups and cook to au sec while stirring. Repeat until rice is tender, yet still has a bit of bite to it. Add another 1/4 cup of wine and stir into risotto. This is your base*. If you are continuing to serve finish risotto to creamy & soft rice by following the next steps.
  5. Season with salt and white pepper. Cool on a sheet pan or long flat dish in the fridge. Spread out thin and cut cross marks through the rice by dragging the spoon through it. This helps to cool the rice quicker.

*The base can be made several days in advance and stored in a smaller container after cooling. It is about 90% the way to being done so you can make any risotto in about 10 minutes right out of the fridge.

Stinging Nettle Puree

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. – Nettle leaves
  • ½ tsp. – Kosher Salt

Instructions:

  1. Put on a pot of water to boil. This water will be used to blanch the nettle leaves
  2. While the water is coming up to a boil snip off the leaves of the picked nettles. Discard the stems.
  3. Get a bowl of ice water ready to shock the nettles after you blanch them. Put it close to the pot of boiling water.
  4. Drop all the leaves in the boiling water and stir the leaves around to ensure that they are all cooking evenly. Blanch them for 60-90 seconds to remove the toxins.
  5. Turn off the heat and remove the leaves from the pot. Immediately place them in the ice water and move them around to ensure they all cool rapidly. This sets the bright green color and stops the cooking process. Shock them for at least 90 seconds.
  6. Squeeze out excess water and put the leaves in the blender. The water can be added back if needed.
  7. Add salt to the blender. Puree leaves to a smooth paste. Water can be added as you work the leaves in the blender. Put the puree into a container and store in the fridge for a later use.

Nettle Risotto (4 servings)

 Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbl. – Extra Virgin olive oil
  • 2 each – Garlic cloves
  • ¼ cup – White wine
  • 4 cups – Risotto base
  • 2 cups – Vegetable stock
  • 1 cup – Nettle puree
  • ¼ cup – Grated Parmesan
  • 2 Tbl. – Unsalted Butter
  • 1 Tbl. – Lemon Juice
  • To Taste – Kosher Salt

Instructions:

  1. Heat saute pan with a little olive oil. Add garlic and asparagus to pan and saute.
  2. Deglaze with the white wine and boil.
  3. Add 1 cup of vegetable broth to the pan and bring to a boil. Add risotto pan and stir. As the risotto absorbs the broth add more broth, 1/2 at a time, until creamy.
  4. Add nettle puree and stir in.
  5. Add cheese and butter to pan and stir until fully incorporated over medium heat. Add salt to taste. Add lemon juice to taste. The lemon juice helps to balance the dish. Your personal taste is what makes the dish perfect.

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