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Nettle & Mushroom Risotto

Yummmmm! I am going to enjoy the nettle season as long as possible this spring. Even when the plant is knee to thigh high the tops are still tender. These nourishing, dark green leaves are so nutritious – take a look at last week’s post, Spring Kitchari, to read more about nettle’s healing properties. If you do not have access to fresh nettles, you can substitute kale or spinach.
As far as I am concerned, risotto is as flavorful and nutritious as the broth you make it with. I made this with homemade chicken stock and the soaking liquid from dehydrated mushrooms. I soaked 1 cup of dried mushrooms in 1 1/2 cups of hot water for 2 hours (1 hour would be enough). I combined this mushroom soaking water (lets call it mushroom tea) with my chicken stock to make a flavorful and nutritions broth for the risotto.
2 cups arborio rice
5 1/2 cups broth (I used 4 cups homemade chicken stock and 1 1/2 cups mushroom tea)
2 packed cups nettle leaves (wear gloves when handling fresh nettle)
1 cup dried mushrooms (I used shiitake and maitake)
4 – 6 asparagus spears (optional, I had them so I threw them in, this would also be delicious without)
1/2 cup fresh scallion or onion tops
3 cloves garlic
3 oz. goat cheese, crumbled
olive oil
salt and pepper
In a cast iron skillet sauté asparagus in a bit of olive oil until tender. Once cooked, turn off heat, add scallions, minced garlic and a pinch of salt. Set Aside
In a medium sized saucepan heat broth and keep at a simmer on low heat. In a large, heavy bottom sauce pan heat 2 Tbs. olive oil. Add rice and stir well. Once rice is coated with oil, reduce heat to low, add re-hydrated mushroom pieces, nettle and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. To this rice/veggie mixture, begin to add stock 1/2 cup at a time. Stir continually until the rice has absorbed the stock, then another 1/2 cup of stock. Continue to add stock bit by bit, stirring continually and adding more once the previous stock has been absorbed. Once stock is completely absorbed add another sprinkle of salt, sautéed asparagus herb mix and goat cheese and mix well. Turn off heat and cover with a lid. Let sit about 5 minutes before serving. If you do not use asparagus, add raw garlic and green onions at the end with the goat cheese.

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