Seasonal Food For Free: nettle & hazelnut tart
Another delicious recipe made with foraged nettles – literally food for free – from our self-reliant chef on 'The Dragon's Tail', the Llyn Peninsula in Wales
This is a tasty recipe that combines different tastes well and will delight your guests. The quantities make enough to fill a 20cm container that is about 3cm deep. It will feed 4 to 6 people depending on appetite.
For the pastry
150g butter, diced
300g plain flour, sifted (I used a mix of white/wholemeal 200/100)
Pinch of salt
5ml white wine vinegar
About 50ml ice cold water
For the filling
350g nettle tops washed
75g parmesan cheese, finely grated
100g ricotta (see my home-made ricotta recipe)
300g creme fraiche
A good grating of fresh nutmeg to taste
50g whole hazlenuts, roasted, deskinned and lightly crushed
Milk to top up (see method)
Salt & pepper to taste
Make the pastry in your normal way: by hand, in a food processor or mixer. Add the butter, flour and salt to a bowl and work to a fine breadcrumb like texture. Add the vinegar and enough water so that the pastry just pulls together. Wrap in clingflm and allow to rest for at least 30 minutes.
Grease your tart container and roll out your pastry to be oversize and place in the container. Prick the bottom wil a fork and place back in the fridge (or in the freezer) for at least an hour.
Preheat your oven to 200C. You need to blind bake the pastry case.
Line your pastry case with greaseproof paper and put baking beans or similar in to weight the pastry down. Cook in the preheated oven for 10 minutes. Take out the case and adjust the heat to 180C and take out the beans and paper. Trim off the excess pastry if you left it to hang over. Return the case to the oven for 5 minutes or so until the case is a light brown.
While the pastry case is blind baking make your filling.
Cook the nettles in boiling salted water for 3 to 10 minutes depending on their age. Squeeze out excess water and chop or process into a fine puree.
Place your 4 eggs in a measuring jug and beat well. Add the ricotta, creme fraiche, parmesan & nutmeg and mix well.
Add your nettles and mix again.
Here's where you need a little maths to work out how much filling you need. You need to work out the volume of your tart container. It's the radius in cm multiplied by itself, multiplied by 3 (approximate for pi) multiplied by the depth in cm. This was 10 x 10 = 100 x 3 = 300 x 3 =900. Which gives you the capacity in cubic cms which is the same as millilitres. This is about a litre. So i topped up my filling with milk (you could use more creme fraiche or ricotta) to this amount
Once the case is blind baked, pour in your filing and smooth out if you need to. Then sprinkle over your hazlenuts.
Place in the oven at 180C for about 35-45 minutes until a light golden brown on top and the filling is nicely puffed up and set.
Serve warm or at room temperature. We had it with a lovely salad from leaves in the polytunnel.
Carl Legge lives on the Llyn Peninsula in Wales on a permaculture smallholding and writes a regular blog full of delicious recipes and more. He is currently writing The Permaculture Kitchen, a book of seasonal, local, home-grown delicious recipes for Permanent Publications, the book publishing arm of Permaculture magazine.