Nettles & collards, prickly & sweet! Two early spring greens to enjoy this month.

Here are two seasonal greens that we have been enjoying –one wild, one domesticated. Both are easily grown and harvested at this time of year, and both can either satisfy that need for a big bowl of greens or be worked into other dishes or served as a side. We’ve got a couple recipes for collards and nettles here, and more can be found on the web or in cookbooks or feel free to substitute these greens for recipes calling for spinach or kale, such as pastas, lasagnas, risottos, etc! Enjoy!

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RISOTTO WITH NETTLES

6 ounces nettle tops with tough stems removed; chopped into edible size bits.
2 cups homemade chicken or vegetable stock (miso can also be used)
2 cups water
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 small yellow onion, minced
1 cup arborio, vialone nano or carnaroli rice
3/4 cup dry white wine, preferably Sauvignon Blanc
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
¾ cup finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

(To remove the stems from the nettles, be sure to use latex gloves or plastic bags over your hands!)

Place the chicken stock and water in a sauce pan and heat until it is hot but not boiling. Reduce the heat to low and maintain the heat just below a simmer. Place a ladle in the pan.

Warm the olive oil in a large heavy casserole over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, 10 minutes. Add the rice and nettles and stir for 2 to 3 minutes to toast the rice and coat with oil.

Add the wine and simmer, stirring constantly, until the wine has reduced by half, 3 to 4 minutes. Add a few ladles of stock to the rice and stir to wipe the rice away from the sides and the bottom of the pot. Continue to stir until most of the liquid has been absorbed. Add another ladle full of stock and continue to stir until the liquid has been almost absorbed. Continue to add stock and stir in the same manner until the rice is no longer chalky, 20 to 25 minutes total, depending upon the variety of rice. Season with salt and pepper. Remove the pan from the heat and add another ladle full of stock, the butter and the half of Parmigiano. Cover the pan, remove from heat and let sit for 5 minutes.

Remove lid and stir. Place risotto in a bowl and serve immediately, with a bowl of Parmesan cheese on the table.

Serves 4.

Eat with a crisp, dry white wine; an “herbaceous” Sauvignon Blanc or Soave Classico would go nicely.
Adapted from http://joanneweir.blogspot.com/. Adapt it some more and tell us what you think!

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SIMPLE COLLARD GREENS

Preparation:
* remove the tough stems from 2 lbs of collard greens and chop leaves.
* chop half of one medium onion
* mince 1 large garlic clove
* heat 2 teaspoons bacon fat & 2 Tbsp olive oil in a skillet, add onions and sauté until they are transparent. Add minced garlic and saute half a minute…

Then add chopped collard greens with:
* 2 Tbsp dark sesame oil
* a pinch of chili pepper flakes
* a few pinches of salt & a couple grinds of black pepper.
* a dash of balsamic vinegar or a couple pinches of sugar to round out the flavor.

Cook about 8-10 minutes on medium heat until tender but still bright green. Serve with black beans and cumin, or for breakfast with egg scramble. Yum.

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