Wild and cultivated spring greens are popping up all over NY in April. Some of my favorites, stinging nettle, ramps, garlic mustard, and chives are used in this recipe. Many hardy greens (kale, collards, spinach) can be used in place of the wild greens, cook with what you have! Similarly, pretty much any cheese works here as well. Millet, a cereal grain from the grass family, is a tiny, crunchy grain that adds texture to the crust. I like to toast the millet on the stovetop for a few minutes until its fragrant and a light golden color. If you’re unable to find millet, the crust works without it.
Garlic mustard (pictured above on the left) is a pungent, spicy/bitter plant that grows rampant this time of year. It’s best eaten now, before it flowers which increases the bitterness. I use it sparingly in this recipe, but enjoy the bitterness it lends. Taste your garlic mustard before adding it to the tart, this will help you gauge how much to use.
Stinging nettles and ramps are in season now in NY. If you’re unfamiliar with foraging for either, youtube is a great resource. If you do forage for ramps, it’s crucial to only do so sustainably, on property where no one else is foraging, as they are a wild allium that is very slow to grow and regenerate. Nettles are generally abundant, as is their sting, so do wear gloves while harvesting and preparing them. The heat from cooking removes their sting, pinky promise.
1/2 cup fine cornmeal
1/4 cup lightly toasted millet
3/4 cup all purpose flour or spelt flour
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
6 tablespoons cold butter
4 tablespoons cold water
2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
1 small bunch ramps (approx. 8-12 stems and leaves)
1 medium onion or 2 shallots, finely diced
1 handful garlic mustard, large stems removed (optional)
4 cups loosely packed stinging nettles (kale or spinach also work)
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup heavy cream or sour cream
1/3 cup whole milk
2-4 oz. grated cheese (cheddar, gruyere, parmesan, crumbled chèvre etc.)
A few gratings of fresh nutmeg, if desired
Freshly ground black pepper
Fresh chives, to garnish
For the crust- mix together all dry ingredient in mixing bowl. Cut cold butter into 1/4” cubes then add to dry ingredients. Using hands or a pastry blender, cut butter into dry ingredients until butter is the size of peas, then add cold water. Lightly toss together with your hands, you want everything to stay loose, and not form a ball. Add loose mixture to a 9” tart pan and spread around evenly, then press lightly with your hands to form an even layer on the bottom and sides of tart pan. Place in freezer for 1 hour minimum.
When you’re ready to bake the tart, preheat oven to 375 F and bring a large pot of water to boil. When oven is pre-heated, bake tart shell for 15-20 minutes, until shell is a light golden color. Remove from oven and let cool while you make the filling.
In a skillet, warm your choice of butter or olive oil over medium/low heat, then add in diced shallot or onion, plus thinly sliced ramp stems, reserving the ramp leaves for later. Season with salt and cook over low heat for 10 min., until alliums are softened, then add in ramp leaves and garlic mustard. Sauté for a minute, then remove from heat.
When the pot of water is boiling, add the nettles, scoop them out after 20 seconds or so. Immediately put nettles into a bowl of cold water, then scoop out (the sting is removed by heat, so they’re safe to handle with bare hands now) and squeeze as much liquid out as possible. Break apart the nettles with your hands and add to the skillet with onion and ramps.
In a medium mixing bowl, whisk eggs, cream, milk, salt, and pepper until smooth. Grate in a few shavings of fresh nutmeg if desired. Pour egg and cream mixture into par-baked tart shell, then scatter blanched nettles and sautéed alliums from the skillet on top of the egg mixture evenly.
Top with grated or crumbled cheese, then bake for 30-40 minutes. You want the top to be a golden color and the egg to be set, but not too browned. Let cool for 10+ minutes, scatter freshly chopped chives on top and serve.