Nettle Leaf and Cheddar Tart {gluten-free}

This delicate Nettle Leaf and Cheddar Tart makes the most of the first of spring’s nettles luxuriously mixed with a good cheddar to make a glorious tart in beautiful flaky pastry.

Nettle Leaf and Cheddar Tart {gluten-free}

If you are up for a bit of very easy foraging, now is the perfect time to hunt, gather and eat nettles.  That’s right, stinging nettles. Granted the ‘stinging’ part of their name doesn’t make them sound the most appealing prospect but I urge you to give them a try. Between March and early April nettles are plentiful and everywhere. The freshly sprouted nettle leaf tops are what we are looking for, they are sweet and delicate and can be substituted in almost any recipe that calls for spinach.

Nettle Leaf and Cheddar Tart {gluten-free}

Nettles have the most protein of any green, including broccoli and spinach.  And now we’re all being ordered to eat 7-a-day, I think I need to bring something new to the table. I don’t think they even do 7 different types of fruit and veg at my Sainsbury’s Local, so gathering up a bit of free greenery crammed with nutrients seems like a good way to pack that veg into my diet.

Nettle Leaf and Cheddar Tart {gluten-free}

I’m so lucky that I live moments away from the Parkland Walk, the old railway line that used to run from Finsbury Park to Muswell Hill. Since 1984 it has been maintained as a nature reserve, looked after by the local community.  As well as a lovely spot to walk the puppy or go for a pleasant run, it is a treat to be so close to nature whilst North London bustles around outside the tree lined enclosure. You can barely hear the traffic so it’s easy to forget you are in the city. It is also perfect for a bit of foraging if you know what you are looking for.  I don’t really but even I can spot stinging nettles a mile away.

Nettle Leaf and Cheddar Tart {gluten-free}

You should pick nettles before they are waist high. When you go nettle picking wear heavy-duty kitchen gloves – not the flimsy food grade gloves as the stingers are tricksy and somehow manage to wheedle into the thin plastic gloves. Take a good long pair of scissors and a large carrier bag.  In order to garner the 200g of nettle leaves I needed for this recipe I filled a whole carrier bag with nettle tops. Not the hoary old timers that are the size of your palm but the fresh shoots from the top of the nettles. And no I did not look like a weirdo decked out in my marigolds and wellies, knee deep in the bushes and surrounded by stinging nettles. This is London, so odd behaviour is expected.

Nettle Leaf and Cheddar Tart {gluten-free}

Nettle Leaf and Cheddar Tart {gluten-free}

To prepare the nettles I filled up my kitchen sink with water, put on my rubber gloves and dunked the nettles in, swishing around to wash out the grit and bugs. I then plucked each nettle from the water, snipped off the leaves using scissors and popped them onto the scales. Once I had 200g of nettle leaves, I plunged them into a large saucepan filled with boiling salted water and, after bringing the water back to the boil, simmered for 2 minutes. The sting is subdued within the first 30 seconds of cooking so after this you can discard your rubber gloves and use your hands. The first time you do this you do tend to think the whole world is playing a bit of a joke and you are just about to get your innocent little hands completely ravished. But trust me, the nettles are perfectly placid by this point so feel free to naked up those paws.

Nettle Leaf and Cheddar Tart {gluten-free}

The resulting tart is lovely and mellow but with a gorgeously distinctive nettle flavour. I used a very light cheddar which I don’t normally do but I didn’t want to overpower the nettles since I went to so much trouble in my foraging expedition. I’m all about the bacon salt this week so I seasoned the tart filling with a touch of the good stuff. If you haven’t yet succumbed to its delights then normal salt will do just fine.  Like any self-respecting British tart I served it warm with a handful of oven baked chips. Utterly delicious.

Nettle Leaf and Cheddar Tart {gluten-free}

Print Recipe
Nettle Leaf and Cheddar Tart {gluten-free}
This delicate tart makes the most of the first of Spring's nettles luxuriously mixed with a good cheddar to make a glorious tart in beautiful flaky pastry.
Nettle Leaf and Cheddar Tart {gluten-free}
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 50 minutes
Passive Time 30 minutes
Servings
6 people
Ingredients
For the pastry*:
  • 80 g rice flour
  • 25 g oat flour
  • 45 g buckwheat flour
  • 30 g cornflour
  • 15 g tapioca starch
  • 15 g ground chia seeds
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 115 g cold unsalted butter cut into very thin slices
  • 1 egg medium, lightly beaten
  • 2-4 tablespoons iced water
  • 2 tablespoons gluten-free flour for rolling out
For the filling:
  • 200 g nettle leaves
  • 2 eggs and 2 egg yolks
  • 200 ml crème fraiche
  • 1 tbsp chives
  • 100 g mellow cheddar grated
Equipment
  • 20 cm round tart tin with high sides
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 50 minutes
Passive Time 30 minutes
Servings
6 people
Ingredients
For the pastry*:
  • 80 g rice flour
  • 25 g oat flour
  • 45 g buckwheat flour
  • 30 g cornflour
  • 15 g tapioca starch
  • 15 g ground chia seeds
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 115 g cold unsalted butter cut into very thin slices
  • 1 egg medium, lightly beaten
  • 2-4 tablespoons iced water
  • 2 tablespoons gluten-free flour for rolling out
For the filling:
  • 200 g nettle leaves
  • 2 eggs and 2 egg yolks
  • 200 ml crème fraiche
  • 1 tbsp chives
  • 100 g mellow cheddar grated
Equipment
  • 20 cm round tart tin with high sides
Nettle Leaf and Cheddar Tart {gluten-free}
Instructions
Pastry
  1. In a large mixing bowl combine the flours, chia seeds and salt.
  2. Rub the butter into the flour in between your fingertips so it resembles very rough breadcrumbs then stir in the beaten egg with a fork.
  3. Add the water 1 tablespoon at a time and start to bring the dough together with a pastry scraper. It should start to form quite quickly.
  4. Tip the dough onto the work surface and quickly bring the ball into a round ball with your hands. You don’t really need to work the pastry as there’s no gluten to activate. The pastry should still be a little sticky.
  5. Wrap the pastry ball in greaseproof paper and flatten it slightly.
  6. Place in the fridge for 30 minutes to chill.
  7. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C.
  8. Dust the work surface with a gluten-free flour blend then roll the pastry out into a circle large enough to line a 20cm tart tin.
  9. Once you have lined the pastry in the tin and neatened the edges with a knife, place greaseproof paper over the pastry, so it comes up over the sides, then fill the tin with baking beans.
  10. Place in the oven for 20 minutes. Take out of the oven then remove the baking beans and parchment and brush the surface of the pastry with the beaten egg.
  11. Place back in the oven for a final five minutes to seal the pastry. Remove from the oven and leave to cool to room temperature before adding the filling.
Filling
  1. Place your nettle leaves in a large saucepan of salted boiling water. Bring back to the boil then simmer for 2 minutes.
  2. Drain the nettle leaves and douse in cold water to stop them cooking any further. When cool enough to handle, ball up the nettle leaves and squeeze out the excess water. Chop finely then set aside.
  3. In a large bowl whisk together the eggs and egg yolks with the crème fraiche.
  4. Add the chives, then the cheddar, then the nettle leaves. Season with plenty of salt and pepper or bacon salt if you have it.
  5. Pour the filling into the tart shell and place back in the oven for 25-30 minutes.
  6. Remove from the oven and leave to cool to room temperature before trimming the edges off the pastry and taking it out of the tin. Serve warm.
Recipe Notes

*Pastry recipe adapted from Flaky Pie Dough in Alanna Taylor-Tobin's Alternative Baker

This recipe was updated in 2017 to be gluten-free, so the resulting pastry will not be as light in colour as those in the photos.

Nettle Leaf and Cheddar Tart {gluten-free}

SHOP THE RECIPE

I love these tins by Alan Silverwood and to bake my tart I used this Fluted Flan Tin 20cm Alan Silverwood. It has a loose bottom so makes it easy to remove your baked tarts from and is a silver anodised finish so conducts heat evenly. Don’t put them in the dishwasher though as it will ruin the tin.

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