Bean and Nettle Salad: Giorgio Locatelli Early Summer Recipes from Lombardy

Lombardy, where I come from, is probably the wettest place in all of Italy, so it’s convenient for England to be my home now, even if the weather is just familiar. Even at this time of year, the region experiences heavy rains from summer storms, but unlike the UK, combined with constant temperatures in the mid-20s Celsius create a humid climate ideal for growing vegetables. After the harshness of winter, now is the time when we welcome the return of the ingredients we only dreamed of in March, so it makes sense to make the most of them.

Insalata di fave e pecorino (bean salad with pecorino; top photo)

Fresh beans are adored all over Italy and are often eaten raw directly from green beans. Here, they are lightly ground, peeled and tossed into a simple salad stuffed with slightly crunchy cheese. The sauce is more than you need here, so keep any leftovers in the fridge for another day

Preparation 10 minutes Cooking 15 minutes 4

1 pinch salt 1½ tablespoon red wine vinegar 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar 1100 ml extra virgin olive oil

For salad 4 large handfuls of freshly ground beans (about 320 grams) 100-120 grams of finely chopped pecorino to taste, 4 large handfuls of cabbage leaves, salt and black pepper, to taste

50 gr finely chopped pecorino 25 gr finely chopped parmesan cheese 25 gr flour

First, make the sauce. Put the salt in a bowl, add the vinegar and stir for a minute until the salt dissolves. Beat the oil with 2 tablespoons of water, until the sauce thickens into an emulsion, then pour into a clean bottle or jar and place in the fridge for up to a month (it will separate, so shake well before using).

Put a large pot of boiling salted water, simmer the beans for 2-3 minutes, then drain and cool in ice water, removing the outer shell.

To make the chips, mix the cheese and flour in a bowl. Heat a few small non-stick pans and sprinkle a quarter of the cheese mixture on the bottom of each pan. Let simmer for about a minute, until the bottom starts to take on a golden color, then turn and color the other side for another minute. Transfer the chips to a board, then repeat the process with the rest of the cheese mixture.

Arrange the beans (the pecorino is really salty, so do not mix them with salt), coat with a little vinegrette to coat, then toss with the minced pecorino to taste – you want the beans to be well covered with cheese and sauce. Spread the bean mixture in a single layer in the center of the four plates. Arrange the cabbage and let it stand for a while, spread it over the beans and serve each portion covered with crispy cheese.

nettle eaters

Rizoto Giorgio Locatelli Hithra

If you can not get nettle, which has the added benefit of being free, use baby spinach instead. In Lombardy we adore snails probably more than the French and I would be tempted to add a little more to this risotto at the end; The dish works even without them, but they add a welcome contrast. If you want to give them a chance, fry 30 canned and drained snails (search in French and Italian or online) in 2 tablespoons of hot olive oil until they are half brittle on the outside, mix with a small pinch of each of them. minced garlic and parsley and sprinkle on a plate. Risotto once.

Preparation 10 minutes Cooking 25 minutes 6

2 handfuls of fresh nettle leaves (plus some for blush for garnish – optional) Freshly ground salt and black pepper 2½ liter fine chicken juice 50 g butter 1 onion, peeled and finely chopped 400 g rice Carnaroli 125 ml dry white wine

75 g cold butter, cut into small cubes 100 g finely chopped parmesan cheese

Boil the nettles in boiling water and salt for 30 seconds, then drain, place in a food processor and stir until softened; Add a little water if the mass is not loose and let the liquid boil, then reduce the mass to low heat.

Melt the butter in a heavy pan, add the onions and sweat gently, stirring, for five minutes until soft but colorless. Add the rice and mix it to be smeared with butter and “bake” the grains, then add the wine and stir by stirring until the wine evaporates completely and the onions and rice are dry.

Add a tablespoon of hot juice, my heart and grate the rice. When the juice is ready to evaporate, add another tablespoon and repeat, adding more broth and stirring for 10 minutes. Mix the nettle paste and return the risotto to the temperature, then add another tablespoon of juice and repeat as before, stirring and adding more juice, for another five to six minutes, until the grains are soft, but still good– Risotto should not be too tasty or will become liquid when butter and cheese are added later.

Once the rice is ready, lower the heat and let it rest for a minute. Now for the manticatura (AKA, final mix): Remove from the heat, whisking vigorously in the butter, then the parmesan cheese and shaking the pan vigorously while doing so. Arrange it to taste and serve as desired with some fried nettle leaves.

  • Giorgio Locatelli is the boss / sponsor of London W1, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. An updated version of his book, Made in Italy, was republished by 4th Estate on June 9, priced at 35 35. To order a copy for 30 30.45 go to

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