So, I have been out gathering some of this fresh vibrant loveliness for the kitchen......
Alexanders & Nettle Quiche
One good handful of nettles
One good handful of Alexanders leaves and tender stems
2 spring onions or Welsh or Egyptian onion leaves, cut into 1cm/½” rounds
5 ramson leaves (optional)
80g mature cheddar cheese, grated
4 eggs, beaten
3 tbsp crème fraiche
3 tbsp milk
½ tsp dried tarragon
For the pastry:
200g self raising flour
100g butter or margarine, at room temperature
A dash of milk
A pinch of salt
For a 25cm/10” flan tin. Serves 4 – 6.
Preheat the oven to 180c
Grease and flour the flan tin and put to one side. Sift the flour into a mixing bowl and add the salt. Chop the butter or margarine into small pieces and work it into the flour with your finger tips to form a crumbly mixture which should form a loose ball when squeezed together. Add a sprinkling of milk – a little at a time, and continue working the mixture until it forms a cohesive ball in your hand. Gather up all the mixture and form one ball.
Dust a flat surface and a rolling pin with flour. Press the ball of pastry into a flat disk and roll it out, turning from time to time to prevent sticking, to a circle of roughly 30cm/12” in diameter. Carefully lift the pastry, draping it over the rolling pin, and lay it over the flan tin. Lift the edges and tuck the pastry into the corners of the tin. Slice off the excess with a knife and prick the base with a fork. Line the pastry case with baking parchment or foil and fill with baking beans. Bake for 20 minutes.
While the pastry is baking melt half the butter in a saucepan and sauté the onions over a medium heat until soft. Add the nettles, Alexanders and remaining butter with a tablespoon or two of water, cover and allow to the nettles to wilt for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir all the ingredients together.
Sprinkle half of the cheese over the base of the pastry case, then add the vegetables in an even layer, and then finish with the remaining cheese. Whisk the crème fraiche and milk into the eggs with some salt and pepper and the tarragon and pour over the ingredients in the flan tin. Place into the centre of the oven straight away and bake for 25 minutes.
Serve hot or cold with salad and potatoes.