Wild Garlic and Nettle Tart – a wholegrain pastry base, with a creamy, savoury custard filling and foraged greens.
As regular readers may have noticed, I go through obsessive periods with either certain dishes or ingredients. So, you’ll be unsurprised to see that you’ve had two different wild garlic recipes from me recently. However, unlike my somewhat more elegant Braised Cod with Wild Garlic Emulsion I shared the other week, this one is hearty and filling with the addition of nettles, but with a much simpler, more rustic assembly. If you’ve never made a tart before, this is the one to try. I’ve used kamut flour (khorasan wheat) in the pastry, it’s lighter and less dense than other wholegrain flours with a nutty flavour and a golden hue.
The obvious downside to foraging nettles is, of course, the risk of being stung. The job requires a thick pair of gloves, (I use rubber washing-up gloves). The best time to forage for them is when the plant is still young, pick the top, tender leaves and the tips. Once they’re blanched they’re ready to use, much like spinach. Sadly the wild garlic season is nearing its end for another year, so one last forage for these leaves for me. Finely chopped them to release maximum flavour and then combined with mature hard cheese is a marriage made in heaven.
What I love about this tart is it looks fabulous and tastes really impressive, with little effort. The only difficult part of this is the rolling out of the pastry. If you’re not dexterous with a rolling pin shop bought, pre-rolled shortcrust pastry is an option. A little butter is required to grease the tin and a baking tray helps ward off the dreaded soggy bottom and makes manoeuvring easier.
Wild Garlic & Nettle Tart
- 27cm loose bottom pastry case.
- 140 g kamut or wholemeal spelt flour
- 110 g plain flour plus extra for dusting
- 125 g cold unsalted butter diced
- 4 ½ – 5 tbsp cold water
- 50 g young nettles leaves washed
- 60 g wild garlic leaves washed
- 250 g ricotta cheese
- 200 ml creme fraiche or double cream
- 50 ml whole milk
- 100 g cheddar is ideal or any other mature hard cheese grated
- 4 large eggs
- Preheat the oven to 180°C fan.
- To make the pastry, put the flour and ½ tsp salt into a food processor. Add the butter and blitz until the mixture resembles rough breadcrumbs. Add the ice-cold water, and blitz again until the pastry is just coming together – if the pastry feels dry, add a tbsp more water and pulse again. Flatten into a disc, wrap and chill in the fridge for 30 mins until firm.
- Grease the base of the tin with a little butter. Roll the pastry into a circle roughly 3mm thick on a floured surface, then use it to line a 27cm tart tin. Prick the base all over with a fork, then return to the fridge for 20 mins to firm up, or chill it in the freezer for a few minutes.
- Line the pastry with baking parchment, fill with baking beans or dried rice and place on a baking tray and bake for 10 mins until the sides of the pastry are holding their shape. Remove the paper and beans and bake for 10 mins more until the pastry is lightly golden. Reduce the heat to 175°C fan.
- Meanwhile blanch the nettle leaves in boiling salted water, drain and run under cold water. Squeeze out as much water as possible from the leaves then chop. (leave 2-3 leaves whole if you want to garnish the top of the tart). Remove the stalk from the wild garlic and chop finely.
- Scatter the chopped nettle and garlic leaves in the pastry case, then follow with almost all the cheese. Crack the eggs into a medium bowl, and whisk lightly. Add the ricotta, cream or creme fraiche and milk, whisk again. Season lightly with salt and black pepper. Put the egg mixture into the tart and add the remaining cheese. Add a few blanched nettle leaves and garlic leaves.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes or until set and golden brown. Serve warm or cold with salad.
- Substitute kamut (khorasan wheat flour) with wholemeal spelt.
- Prepare and bake the pastry case a day ahead.