Veggie mains

Teazle Wood wild garlic risotto 

This is a great dish to make in spring if you can forage wild garlic, or ramsons, which grows prolifically  in woodlands in the UK in spring. It’s best picked just before it flowers when the leaves are a vibrant green colour. I picked this in Teazle Wood an  ancient woodland in Leatherhead in Surrey saved from development by a group of people lead by my friend Lucy a few years ago. As a child, before the M25 was built, I used to play and ride my pony in these woods and remebered an old hermit who lived in the middle of the woods. Despite being right next to a motorway the woods are an oasis for plants and wildlife and are not safe for future generations to enjoy. This recipe will serve six with seasonal veggies on the side.

So what do you need?

  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 large leeks
  • 600g risotto rice
  • A glass of dry white wine
  • 2 litres of vegetable stock
  • a large handheld bunch of wild garlic
  • 50g butter
  • 50g Parmesan cheese (grated)
  • 120g goats’ cheese
  • Salt & pepper

So what do you do?

Start by making your stock I used the green ends of the leeks the lower stems of the wild garlic and asparagus and some salt and pepper which I simmered for about 45 minutes while I prepped the other ingredients for the meal.

I sliced the leeks and steam them for a few minutes over the stock as it was cooking, then I fried them in about 3 tbsp. of olive oil in a large thick based frying pan for a minute before adding the rice which I fried until it started to go translucent. I added the wine and some salt and pepper and the began adding the stock a couple of ladlefuls at a time and cooked the risotto, stirring it and adding more stock as it was absorbed by the rice. Meanwhile I thoroughly washed the wild garlic and reserved the stems with buds on, I chopped up about 80% of the wild garlic leaves and then belended them with a tablespoon of olive oil and a pinch of salt to make a pesto style paste.

After about 20 minutes or so when the rice was almost cooked I stopped adding stock and kept cooking the risotto until most of the liquid evaporated then add the butter, wild garlic paste, the remaining garlic leaves and stirred this through the risotto until the butter was melted and the galic leaves wilted and then I turned off the heat and stirred in the Parmesan. I then tasted the risotto and seasoned it with salt and pepper. I dished it up and put a slice of goats’ cheese on top and decorated it with the wild garlic buds. I served it with mushrooms fried with wild garlic leaves, asparagus and green beans. Spring on a plate!

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