Nature Nibbles with Siena
Recipe for Savoury Nettle Tarts
A recipe by passionate chef and nursery worker Siena provides a unique take on cooking with Stinging Nettle in this savoury dish.
- Preparation time: 45 minutes
- Cook time: 30 minutes at 350F
- 12 premade tart shells or 1 pie shell (or prepare your own)
- 2-3 stalks of stinging nettle (~10 inches long)
- 2 walla walla onions (medium size)
- 6-8 cloves of garlic (1 bulb)
- 1 frozen block of spinach, thawed and drained
- 2 TBSP neutral or olive oil
- Handful of snap peas
- Bunch of cilantro or Italian parsley
- Red pepper flakes
- Juice from 1 lemon
Stinging Nettle is such a versatile and amazing plant. Maybe you know if from being stung as a kid or the fact that it is amazing habitat for beautiful butterflies! A fun fact is that in the Malay language, the phrase “Saya suka suka, rama rama rama rama” means I really like butterflies. Which I do!
By having stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) in your garden, not only will you attract passionate pollinators but you will be able to dine on the plant too! Being in the mint plant family, nettle is robust and can take being pinched back. This can make it more bushy, healthy and even better… you can have some for dinner.
Many people love using nettle all over the world in teas, but in my opinion it’s flavour is better suited to a pairing of savoury and earthy flavours. I will be sharing a new favourite recipe of mine where I make nettle tarts. But due to its rich, sweet, and amazing texture, I would also recommend putting it in spinach gomai, pasta salads, Thai curries, Ethiopian dishes, and anything really that you think spinach would be good it but you want better flavour and a boost in vitamins.
I used a generous amount of nettle, maybe 2 to 3 stalks worth. Now be careful handling it. Using thick leather gloves, oven mitts, or bypass-pruners, you can lightly hold them at the end of the snips, far away from fingers. Once they have been cooked for about 3-5 minutes, the stinging completely goes away and they are safe to touch, and more importantly… eat!
Preparation & Stovetop:
- In a large saucepan on medium heat I added the oil, diced two walla walla onions, and a full bulb of minced garlic. I find that sunflower oil is the best for cooking but you can use whatever on hand. Olive oil gives good flavour.
- Then I added the raw nettles, stalks and all (after washing) as well as the thawed spinach. You can use fresh spinach if you like but I’ve found that frozen packs are much better for cooking as they are already dense and delicious. I was given some lovely snap peas so I added those for more crunch.
- Now you can let that simmer with a little water on medium for a good 25-30min.
- Once cool you can strip the nettle stalks from their leaves and flowers with a fork. Compost the nettle stalks and then we’re ready for the final touches.
- I put in a good bunch of chopped cilantro, a little bit of salt, roasted red pepper flakes, a pinch of sage and lemon juice. I also like to put in green onion or chives if you have it.
Now sadly I didn’t have time to make my pastry from scratch for the pictures but I’ll give you a quick run down since you want to make the best pie or tarts possible for your friends and family!
Making your own pastry (Optional):
Sift about two cups of flour into a mixing bowl with a couple pinches of salt (you can also add herbs here too the flour if you want a more flavourful crust.) You can use white flour, but I found one part white to one part buckwheat makes for really good flavour. Then have two sticks (1 cup) of shortening and cut that into the flour. You can use two knives or if you have a pastry cutter that works quite well. Once all the shortening bits are very small you can get some ice water and pour (up to 1/2 cup) into the middle. Lightly folding it until the gluten is developed and it is kneadable. Knead in the bowl for 3 min then let it sit in the fridge for a good hour. You don’t have to do this but it definitely makes for nicer dough.
Then you can roll it out until it’s about a 5mm thick, and plop it in your pie pan or tart shells. To do a fancy edge I use a fork. And if you have any left over you can do a decal or some lattice.
Put in your lovely nettle mixture into the shells and put it in the oven for about 30 minutes at 350 degrees F. You’ll want the pastry to be golden brown.
Then once out of the oven, serve hot, or even cold then next day!
This meal is best paired with family, friends, laughter and a lot of love.
Hope you’ve enjoyed this nature nibble!
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