Thursday, 14 March 2013

Nettle & feta tarts


4oz plain flour, 2oz butter, 3 eggs, 75g marscapone, 150g nettles, 35g feta. 

Serves: 6 Preparation: 45 minutes

I love nettles. The green flavour makes a lovely refreshing tea, a peppery soup that only watercress can top for simplicity... but it also works well for a bit of indulgence. These tarts are feather light with melting soft nettles and the crumbly tang of feta.

1) To make the shortcrust pastry measure 4oz of plain flour and 2oz of cold butter. Cut the butter into small cubes and drop along with the flour into a food processor until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Drip in 2-3 tablespoons of cold water until the mixture quickly forms a ball. Wrap this in clingfilm and put in the fridge for 15 minutes. Once chilled, roll out and press firmly into pastry cases. Bake blind for 5 minutes and set aside to cool.

2) To prepare the nettles, pick them carefully by cutting through the lowest part of the stem with secateurs or good scissors, then pick them up by the stems and pop them in your foraging bag/basket. Pour into a colander and run under cold water until any bugs have been washed away. You can use rubber gloves to protect your hands when picking the leaves from the stems but years of cooking burns have given me asbestos fingers and a few stings in you really don't much notice the tingle any more. Drop the leaves in boiling water, stir once, then pour back into the colander. Plunge into ice water to stop the leaves cooking and retain their colour. Strain and set aside.

3) Whisk together the eggs and marscarpone and stir in the nettles and crumbled feta. Spoon into the tart cases and bake for 20 minutes at 180, by which time the pastry and surface of the tart should be golden brown.

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