Pesto di Ortiche (Stinging Nettle) and Pesto di Crescione (Water Crescent)
On my way back from feeding the chickens and picking Stinging Nettles, I noticed some Water Crescent on the side of the road and decided to forage some as well. Back home I parted with some nettle for Mrs BYF to make Ristto alle Ortiche, the rest I converted into a Pesto. I also made Watercress Pesto using the same recipe and had a comparative taste test. Nettle – 9, Watercress – 6
170 g Basil, Carrot Tops, Nettle or Cress
45 g Roasted Pine Nuts
40 g Fresh Garlic
5 g Salt
In a Mortar and Pestle crush all the ingredients very fine
270 ml Good Olive Oil
Hand mix the olive oil with the contents of the Mortar and Pestle very well
100 g Grated Parmigiano Reggiano (Any strong hard grating cheese if you do not have Parmigiano
40 g Grated Pecorino Romano (Any sharp goat or sheep cheese if you do not have Pecorino) Today, I used my own home made cheese
90 g Soft unsalted Butter
Now fold the cheeses and butter into the mix
It is ready to eat, but the flavours develop and intensify over the next 24 hours
Enjoy on bread or in a pasta
Do not forget the glass of good home made wine!!!
Pesto freezes very well
Stinging Nettle Risotto
We have a friend who has a few stinging nettles growing in the chicken coop and in their vast vegetable garden. Every year at about this time we binge eat stinging nettle. We pick only the soft tips and once we have a basketfull we plan. Half goes to pesto, no question, but the rest will be used in all sorts of ways. Today the choice went to risotto. The risotto came out an intense green, hinting at the wonderful flavour, spinach like, but much tastier. I am sharing Mrs BYF’s recipe and I wish I could let you have a taste!
I use my favorite cast iron pot, big enough to make risotto for 6, but this is for 2 hungry people who will not be getting any dinner.
1 big leek or 4 or 5 little ones. I use the small tender ones from our garden green leaves and all
1 green mild chili from the garden because it was there
1 and 1/2 cup of Arborio rice
200 g or more of fresh nettles. They cook away to almost nothing
1/2 cup olive oil
700 ml of stock – I used quail stock
salt and pepper to taste
grated parmigiano for the table
Blanch the rinsed nettles in boiling water, drain and put aside.
Heat the stock and keep it lightly simmering
In the pot you will be cooking the risotto, pour the oil and add the leeks. Cook over low heat until the leeks have softened. Add the rice, stir until the first rice kernels pop. Add a ladle full of stock, stir until almost absorbed, add another ladle full and stir, add all the nettles, then keep ladling the stock on the rice and stirring. The more you stir the creamier the risotto will be. Once the rice is al dente and still very moist, almost soupy it is ready. Serve immediately sprinkled with lots of Parmigiano.
We have a lot of zucchini, as has almost every one I know. There is quite a harvest of spring onions, too. We have used up all the garden’s onions, but Mrs BYF decided to combine the lot and to use it for pasta sauces, on pizza, in frittata and fritters. The discovery we made was that slow sweated spring onion sliced finely, including the green part becomes really soft and tasty. Add the slices zucchini to that and braise over very low heat. Then, create magic by adding fresh mint and basil! It tastes so good that it may be eaten straight out of the pot in stead of being a part of another dish.
20 Spring Onions
1 Kg sliced Zucchini
1 Hand full of fresh Mint leaves
1 Hand full of Basil
6 Tablespoons of Olive Oil
Cut about 1/3 off the top of the spring onions to get rid of the harder leaves. Slice the rest very finely. Fry the onions for about 5 minutes in the olive oil and then cover and sweat on very low heat until soft. Scrub the zucchini and slice very thinly. When the onion is soft add the zucchini and braise for about 10 minutes over very low heat . Add the shredded mint and basil, cover and cook on low until the flavours have blended. Add salt and black pepper to taste.
I still love Basil Pesto but Stinging Nettle is available, free and interesting to use. Basil is hard to grow in Dunedin and costs a mint to buy. The same recipe can be used for Rocket, Carrot Tops or Basil Pesto.
170 g Stinging Nettle
40 g Roasted Pine Nuts
40 g Garlic Cloves
270 g Good Extra Virgin olive oil
3 g Salt
70 g Melted Butter
90 g Grated Parmigiano cheese (or any other hard Italian grating cheese)
40 g Pecorino Romano cheese (or similar sharp and tangy cheese)
Today I used my own home made cheeses and the end result was divine!
Put everything except the cheese and butter in a blender and blend well. Do not make it into slush – keep a fine texture. You may need more olive oil to complete the job
Now fold in the cheese and butter
Serve on fresh or toasted bread, dab on to meat, chicken, fish and vegetarian dishes, use as a dip for carrots and other fresh veg, salad dressing, and of course as a pasta sauce.
I bake Bread and Focaccia several times every week and today I decided to make the Focaccia with Pancetta (which I have a lot of) and Potato (which the two grandsons love)
Let us hope the masters will approve!
Standard Focaccia dough. Cube potatoes and boil in salted water for about 8 minutes until soft – drain well. Fry the Pancetta in olive oil until crisp – drain and retain the oil – dry Pancetta on paper towels. Pour hot oil over hot potatoes. Mix in some lemon zest and chopped rosemary and toss well.
After the first rise of the dough, beat it down and form to fit the pan. Top with Pancetta / Potato mix and let it rise for a second time. Brush with olive oil and bake.