This was one of those days when you get into a sort of gardening groove and you want to use something that is wild and free – and there – well frankly with our garden – all around – are bags of nettles! I have been beating and nobbling and chopping the swines down for years. And then this morning I found myself reading Nigel Slater‘s Kitchen Diaries 2 with regard to black pudding – see previous posts. By sheer fluke i turned over the page and there, lo and behold, was an article on nettles! I put on a Sting cd and read on….(ouch!).
The result was – I decided to involve them in tonight’s supper – I was already planning a frittata – so it just became even more interesting than normal. It is ‘rocket sciencely simple’ (not easy to say when you have had a glass or three of shiraz).
For four –
Pan fry a finely chopped onion until translucent. Add a 75 gm pack of pancetta or lardons and continue til it is nicely browned. Put to one side.
I used about 50 gm of nettle tops – washed and rinsed well. I pan fried them lightly in olive oil til they wilted. Set them to one side and let them cool. Nettles do not wilt as much as spinach so you get a little more. But of course – you could use spinach if you can’t get nettles.
For the tomato sauce – pierce a green chilli – add to a saucepan with a good sprinkle of dried oregano, a chopped garlic clove and a finely sliced, deseeded green chilli plus at least two tbsp of olive oil. Then add a 400 gm tin of chopped tomatoes. Bring to a gentle simmer and leave for around 20 minutes with a lid on. Taste – add some tom sauce if you like or a tsp of sugar.
Ok – I used 500 gm of spaghetti cooked as per the packet – then drained. In a jug I popped 2 eggs and about 100 gm of milk plus some black pepper, a dash of salt and a good handful of parmesan cheese grated. I mixed this all together with a fork.
I popped the spag into a large bowl and stirred in the egg mixture. Then I put a large frying pan on the stove with a dash of olive oil. I then added half of the spaghetti mixture to the pan – flattened it down with a plate. Into the centre I added the bacon mixture and the finely chopped nettles. Then I carefully add the rest of the spaghetti – pressed down again with the plate – so that the filling is all covered.
Pan fry it for about 5 minutes til it looks a little browned underneath – use a slice to lift it to check. Then whizz it under a preheated grill to brown the top a little. It is just a matter of being patient and attentive. Put on some good music and watch – when it it is as you want it – pop a large plate over the frying pan and carefully flip it so that the fritatta ends up on the plate.
Bring to the table – use a sharp knife to cut wedges and serve with the tomato sauce. This is frighteningly simple and scarily tasty! The pancetta and nettles blend so well.
A supper with real bite!