Nettle quiche. I served up a vat of nettle soup one lunchtime while my French friends were staying and they thought it was très bon. We got on to talking about how their village holds an annual food/foraging festival, each year focusing on a different plant, with lots of different dishes made from said ingredient. They said that one year it had been nettles, and that they were very good in quiche.
I scribbled nettle quiche onto my menu plan for this week, then rashly declared to the world that I was indeed going to be making nettle quiche when I posted my menu plan as a comment on Jen’s Place’s post on Monday. Kind of meant it would be a cop out not to.
As ever with these things, a little more time would have been good. I managed to get some pastry knocked together using the only recipe which works for me which is Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s pastry recipe in River Cottage Everyday – the recipe for poached leek and blue vinney tart (delicious altogether by the way). It’s probably his standard pastry recipe but now I know where it is, I always use it from that book. I’d forgotten how labour intensive collecting the nettles can be, but as they were just at the bottom of the garden, I managed a colander’s worth and to dump them in a sink of cold water before I had to leave to get the kids from school. I also managed not to get my hands stung, and, remembering the pain (metaphorical and physical - and that despite wearing rubber gloves) that stripping out the stalks was when I made the soup I tried to just take the top 2-4 leaves, to save me the trouble later on.
When I got back from the school run, I managed to fill the time I had before Pink needed escorting to Rainbows by lining and blind baking the pastry case, frying up the onions and bacon (yes, I felt nettle quiche would be more attractive to the hordes if it was nettle AND BACON quiche – or perhaps nettle and bacon quiche - a cop out perhaps, but who cares?) and wilting the nettles. To be honest aside from the stinging potential, I treated them just like spinach, and the taste is not dissimilar, although less earthy – which might be a good thing in some people’s book (although I just adore spinach). So I steamed the leaves, chopped them up and squeezed out the water, then just scattered the mashed up green stuff – because let’s face it that’s what it looks like – over the onions and bacon in the base of the quiche.
The rest of the quiche last night was 2 large eggs and a small bantam egg plus the egg white left over from the pastry recipe (which uses a yolk) the remains of a carton of crème fraiche – probably a good rounded tablespoon plus a bit and some salt and pepper all whisked up and poured on top followed with some grated cheddar. If I hadn’t had the egg white to use, I might have thinned the custard mixture out with a little milk.
I baked it at 1800 for about 30 minutes – until the custard is set enough and the top is a light golden brown (ish).
Et voila, as they say in France
I wouldn’t say it was a hands down raging success, but worth the effort. Objectively, it was good. The Husband and I enjoyed it with new potatoes and some p.s.b. and Blue and Pink ate most of it without too much moaning, which is about as much as I was hoping for as neither of them are particularly keen on spinachy type greens. Blue was defeated by the last bit by the pastry crust - interestingly, this is my favourite bit - just because I’m not great at making pastry doesn’t mean I’m not a pig when it comes to eating it ...
Finally, just because I am so rubbish at making pastry, please do admire the pastry case that I managed to produce for the quiche - not a crack to be seen - I was so pleased with it. But then, I don't get out much...