I can’t say enough about the tasty versatility that is the edible milkweed flower bud. They are a delicious cross between asparagus, peas, and artichokes and can be had for free if you know where to look (but as always don’t be greedy and over-harvest any wild edible–in this case the monarch butterflies rely on them for survival). While several parts of certain milkweed plants are edible, the flower buds offer a treat in early summer and can be either eaten on their own with butter, or incorporated into other dishes such as this delicious risotto recipe we made up in the Rural Spin kitchen. Be sure to read our ‘spin, Respect for the Yummy Milkweed for more info on how to process milkweed flower buds for eating.
INGREDIENTS (about 4 servings)
- 2 cups processed milkweed flower buds (again, see Respect for the Yummy Milkweed on how to do this)
- 1 1/2 cups arborio rice (if you don’t use this kind of rice, the recipe just won’t work)
- 4 cups chicken stock (you can also use vegetable stock if you want a vegetarian option)
- 1 cup white wine
- 3 cloves garlic, sliced very thin or chopped finely
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional, or more to taste)
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (or more…if you want)
- salt and pepper to taste
Place your stock and wine in a saucepan and heat until boiling. Reduce heat to a slow simmer — you want it to just stay hot. You’ll then want a heavy-bottomed, shallow pan — like a large, deep frying pan — for making your risotto:
- Melt 2 tablespoons of butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil in your pan over medium heat until bubbly. Toss in your garlic and and red pepper flakes and saute for about two minutes until the garlic is soft.Toss in your rice and stir thoroughly to coat the rice with the butter and oil. Saute for about two minutes, stirring constantly, until the grains are lightly toasted.
- Start adding your hot broth/wine mix. To do this take a ladle-full at a time (my ladle holds about 1/2 a cup of liquid) and add it to your rice, stirring constantly until all of the liquid is equally absorbed into each grain of rice. After the liquid is absorbed, take another ladle-full of your liquid and repeat the process until all of the liquid is absorbed and the rice is cooked through. It is important to follow this process and stir constantly. If you don’t do this and you just dump all the liquid in at once, your risotto will not work.
- You want the rice to be tender but still have a “bite” to it. If you find you need more liquid, add more broth or wine. As you follow this process, you’ll notice that the starches in the rice will create a wonderful creaminess. That is why other rice varieties won’t really work.
- After your rice is cooked, add your processed milkweed flower buds and the last tablespoon of butter. Stir to heat through and incorporate.
- Turn off your heat, then add your Parmesan and mix thoroughly. Taste to see if you need to add salt and pepper.
- Remove from heat and serve, topped with more red pepper flakes and Parmesan, if desired.