I always talk about how I am a whore for good-looking produce, and how I am completely powerless against the imp god of Ambitious Cooking (okay, I made him up, but I implore any one of you to tell me you aren't his bitch, too).
This dish, like so many others, is inspired by the "fuck sake, this has about one minute left on it, why the hell did I buy a(n) [artichoke/bag of gai lan/tub of kimchi] the size of a [fetus/dumpster/Collosus]? What in the frick am I going to do with it?" realization that seems to be par for the course these days. This time, the artichoke won.
But this time I also had some inspirado from my buddy Peter over at cookblog (I call him Jube, short for Jubilation T. Cornpwn, because he says "there are just too many Peters", and I say "that's what she said."). He's been working with nettles a lot lately, springtime green they are, and I live pretty close to a little creek where I can harvest my own. So on Sunday I donned my leather gauntlet gloves to keep the needles off my skin, and snipped myself a bag of tender nettle tips.
I spent all day in the field, and it was raining all day AND I forgot my rain gear in the other truck so I got really drenched today. Therefore, I needed creamy starch and I wanted to make a risotto (it's easier than gnocchi, and it makes its own sauce). I figured the easiest way to get nettles into risotto was to puree it (Jube makes a nifty nettle sauce all the time), so I blanched it (deactivating the venomous trichomes), wrung out the juice and chopped it up. I toasted some pumpkin seeds and blended them with garlic, salt, olive oil and the green wad of nettle. Added a little thyme and mint and whizzed it all up.
I cleaned the artichoke hearts up real nice, quartered and then thinly sliced them. Boil for a couple minutes in acidulated water (a splash of vinegar does it) to keep them from browning. Heat up some butter and olive oil in and sauté the drained artichokes with some thinly sliced spring onion . Add the arborio rice and do the "making the risotto" thing. Stir in a few heaping spoonfuls of the pesto, salt and pepper to taste. Finish with a sexy knob of French cultured butter and some shaved Parm Redge.