This is Gill Meller's wonderfully simple but incredibly flavoursome spring tart. It’s a great combination of crumbly pastry, earthy irony nettles and delicious smoky goat's cheese.
April is one of the best months to pick nettles, while they are still very young and tender. Take only the top four or six leaves of each plant. You’ll need some gloves for picking and washing them but their sting disappears as soon as you drop them in the hot water. This tart is a great way to enjoy them.
For the short crust
- 1 x 8” loose base tart case
- 150g of butter
- 300g plain flour
- Pinch of salt
- About 150ml cold water
For the filling
- About 200g of picked washed nettle tips
- 1 large organic onion finely sliced
- 150g of smoked bacon lardons (we recommend Piper's Farm)
- 100g Quicke's Oak Smoked Goat's Milk Clothbound Cheese
- A small knob of butter
- 2 eggs and 1 egg yolk
- 200ml double cream
- 50ml milk
- To make the short crust, place the flour, butter and salt in a food processor and pulse to a breadcrumb consistency.
- Add the water in a gradual stream; stop as soon as the dough comes together. Turn out and knead the dough a couple of times, then wrap and chill in the fridge for half an hour or so.
- Pre-heat the oven to 170.c
- When your ready, remove the pastry from the fridge and allow to come up to room temperature. Roll out the to about 3mm thick and line your tart case. Leave the edges over hanging. Prick the base with a fork then line the case with parchment and baking beans. Bake blind for about 20 mins then remove the beans and return to the oven for a further 10 – 12 minutes or until the base is just golden. Remove and trim away the over hang as carefully as you can.
- Blanch the nettle tips in boiling water for 2 mins. Remove and refresh in a large bowl of iced water. Drain and squeeze excess water from the nettles then roughly chop them.
- Melt the butter in a pan over a medium heat, add the bacon lardons and fry for 3 - 4 minutes or until just beginning to colour. Add the onions and cook stirring regularly until the onions are soft and golden. Add the chopped nettles and season with salt and pepper.
- Use your hands to evenly distribute the mix over the base of the tart case. You don’t want any big clumps.
- Whisk the whole eggs and yolk with the cream, milk and a third of the cheese. Season the custard to taste. Pour the custard over that tart filling
- Bake straight away at 180c for about 20 minutes or until golden and slightly risen.
- Allow it to cool before you eat it. It’s much better then.