(Serves six to eight)
3kg fresh peas, shelled, or cheat with 900g frozen petit pois
2 large handfuls fresh broad beans, shelled and squeezed out of their hard skins
2 bundles (about 600g) fresh asparagus, trimmed and sliced diagonally into three pieces
2tbs fresh mint, finely chopped
250g unsalted butter
500g cipolotti onions or large spring onions, roughly chopped
2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
450g Carnaroli rice
1.5l hot chicken stock, or 1 bouillon cube
Small handful of fresh basil leaves
150ml dry white wine or vermouth
100g Seirass ewe's ricotta or buffalo ricotto, or fresh cow's milk ricotta
2 large lemons, finely grated
Large handful of Tuscan or Sardinian Pecorino
Coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Cook the peas, broad beans and asparagus with half of the mint in simmering salted water for a couple of minutes until al dente but not soft. Drain the vegetables and mint, reserving 100ml of the cooking water. Return the drained vegetables and mint to the reserved water and set aside.
In a large heavy-based saucepan, melt half of the butter, then add the onions, stir and sauté for about eight minutes until softened. Add the garlic, then pour in the rice. Mix with a wooden spoon for a few minutes until the rice is coated in the buttery onions.
Now start to add the hot stock, one ladleful at a time, stirring as you go. When the rice has absorbed the liquid, add another ladleful of stock; this will take around 8 to 10 minutes. The rice will continue to cook in the heat of the pan.
Return the peas, broad beans and asparagus with the reserved liquid to the pan. Tear the basil leaves and add them to the pan with the wine or vermouth.
Crumble in half of the ricotta and stir in the remaining butter, then continue to cook for a few minutes, stirring, until the butter has melted into the rice. Taste the rice; it should now be tender, with the centre of each grain still al dente. Fold in the rest of the fresh mint.
To serve, divide the risotto between the plates and top with the remaining ricotta, then sprinkle over the lemon zest and pecorino. Add a final seasoning of salt and black pepper and it's ready.
Note: The mint can be replaced with nettles but blanch them first. Their sharp, vibrant flavour will complement the vegetables.
Also around at this time of year is wild garlic, found growing prolifically by streams and meadows. It tastes very strong but can be used in small quantities in risottos, especially when served alongside a roast chicken.