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A Weeder's Salad

Gardener's Revenge

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Nettle Bhajis

 

Gardener's Revenge

This quiche can be made with a mix of any green leaves, Spinach, Chard, Good King Henry, Nettles or Ground Elder, but it is, perhaps, especially satisfying to use principally nettles and ground elder and to make a delicious meal out of those two weeds that cause you so much anguish.

You can use a shortcrust pastry for the lining but I often use a yeast dough which makes for a more substantial dish, a meal in itself, good for picnics and lunch for hungry gardeners.

Serves 4 hungry people                                                               Time taken 2 hours

gard revengefor the dough
2 level teaspoons dried yeast
2 tablespoons warm water
1 teaspoon sugar
225g strong white bread flour or pizza flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 small egg
2 tablespoons olive oil
      Put the yeast, warm water and sugar into a jug and stand in a warm place until frothy, about 5 minutes.
      Put the flour and salt in a large bowl, stir to mix, make a well in the centre, break in the egg and pour in the yeast mixture and oil. Stir with a wooden spoon until the dough comes together into a rough ball, then tip on to a floured surface and knead well for about 5 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. Put the ball of dough into an oiled bowl, cover with a clean cloth and leave to rise in a warm place for about an hour.
      If you have a food processor with a dough blade, it will do all the mixing and kneading for you. Leave the dough in the food processor bowl with the lid on until it has doubled in bulk.

While the dough rises go and do a little weeding. Wear gloves if picking nettles.

pick from the garden
400g (1 large colander full) nettle tops, ground elder leaves, Good King Henry leaves, topped up with chard or spinach if your garden is not very weedy
a handful of Ramson (Allium ursinum) leaves and a few Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata) leaves
      Wash the leaves and bring a little, salted water to the boil in a large saucepan. Tip in the leaves (not the ramsons or garlic mustard) and turn them around and over with two wooden spoons for 4 or 5 minutes until they are all collapsed and just cooked. Drain them very thoroughly, pressing out the water and tip onto a large chopping board. Slice and chop the cooked leaves and the ramsons and/or garlic mustard leaves and mix well.

for the filling
2 eggs
200 ml milk
150g Greek yoghurt (about 3 tablespoons)
100g grated Parmesan
ground black pepper
      Lightly whisk the eggs in a bowl. Stir in the milk, yoghurt and grated Parmesan and season with pepper.

assemble it all
     
Grease a 25cm flan tin. Knock back the dough and knead again briefly. Roll out the dough to roughly the size of the tin and drape it in. Using your knuckles and fingers, press and push the dough to fill the tin and make a rim round the edge. The dough will try to shrink back but keep pushing and pulling it to fill the tin; any holes and tears are easy to mend.
      Spread the leaves evenly over the bottom and gently pour over the filling mix, smoothing it over the top of the cooked leaves.
      Put the tin on a hot baking sheet in a moderately hot oven (190°C/Gas 5) and bake for 30-35 minutes (less in a fan oven) until the filling is barely set and the dough is golden. Serve hot, warm or cold and enjoy every mouthful