This weekend is the start of officially the most dangerous food competition in the United Kingdom; The World Stinging Nettle Eating Championships. I've mentioned in a previous post my first experience with a nettle as a naked 7 year old lad. If anybody had asked me and my Calamine Lotion covered body back then what I would think of such a competition, I would have certainly continued to cry. Now, I love them. Not enough to enter a nettle eating competition mind. I'll leave that to the pro's.
In celebration of our delicious and common wild herb, I've made a little tart that would certainly make a good discussion point at any dinner party. They look pretty and taste delicious. If you are lucky whilst out picking nettles, you will find lots of wild garlic or ‘ramsons’ in woodland at this time of the year, distinctive by their white flowers and mild garlic smell. Experiment with the cheese. Try and get hold of a Cornish Yarg, a cheese which has been matured wrapped in nettle leaves. And if you still can't get your head around the fact you are eating something that might sting you if not prepared properly, use spinach instead.
Nettle, Wild Garlic and Egg Tart
Makes 4 individual tarts or one large tart
For the pastry
100g plain flour
100g wholemeal flour
100g butter or margarine
Pinch of salt
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 handful of wild garlic, finely chopped
1 tbsp rapeseed oil
100g cheddar cheese
1 tbsp natural yoghurt
Half tsp mace
Salt and pepper
1 – In a large bowl or food processor, combine the pastry ingredients with a little water until you achieve a stiff dough. Wrap in cling-film and rest in the fridge for 30 minutes. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C, GM4.
2 – With rubber gloves on, wash the nettles thoroughly, picking over the leaves and ensuring that any tough stalks are removed. Place into a saucepan on a medium heat and allow to wilt for 2-3 minutes, stirring now and again.
3 – Drain the nettles in a colander or sieve, allow to cool then squeeze out the water, roughly chop then set aside.
4 – Heat the oil in a large frying pan and add the shallot and garlic. Soften without colouring, and then stir in the chopped nettles, cheese, yoghurt, mace and seasoning. Take off the heat and combine to a loose paste.
5 – Roll out the pastry and line your tart cases, pricking a few holes with a fork. Trim off any excess then allow to rest in the fridge for 10 minutes, before lining with baking parchment and filling with baking beans. Blind bake on the middle shelf for 15 minutes, remove the beans and paper and bake for a further 5 minutes.
6 – Fill the cooked tart cases with the nettle mixture making a dent in the middle with a spoon for the egg to sit. Break the eggs individually into a cup then gently pour into the tart. Sprinkle with a little finely grated cheese and a grinding of black pepper.
7 – Bake for 12-15 minutes until golden brown. Serve whilst still hot with a simple salad.