Two wild edibles that appear in Cancale come spring are paired together in this quiche : Stinging nettles from the hiking trail that winds around the coast and fresh crab caught in Mont Saint Michel Bay. The subtle, grassy flavor of nettles goes really well with seafood ; you could also make the recipe with scallops, shrimp, or flaked, cooked fish. There’s no cheese here so that nothing interferes with the divine taste of the crab.
1 Extra-Buttery Crust Dough recipe or your favorite piecrust recipe
2 quarts of nettle leaves*
2 green onions
1 cup whole milk
3 Tbs. crème fraîche or heavy cream
½ lb. crabmeat
Prepare and roll out the pie dough. Press the dough into an 11-inch fluted tart pan (with removable bottom), then refrigerate until ready to use.
Wash the nettles, remove any stems, then blanch them in boiling, salted water 5 minutes. Drain, cool, then squeeze out any liquid.
Preheat the oven to 400˚F/200˚C.
Blend the blanched nettles and green onions with the eggs, milk, and cream until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
Pour the nettle mixture into the crust, then sprinkle the quiche with crab. Bake 15 minutes, then lower the oven temperature to 350˚F/180˚C, and bake 20 to 25 minutes more, until the filling is cooked through. Serve hot or at room temperature with a green salad.
* How to pick and prepare (stinging) nettles. It’s as easy as picking daisies – so long as you’ve slipped on a pair of rubber gloves. First look for a patch of nettles that is low and bright green – no tall stringy plants, dusky leaves, spiky blooms or deep red stems. (These are all signs the plants are older – and have gotten fibrous.) Snip off the tender tips and any lush, tender, unblemished leaves you see with scissors, then place them in a thick canvas or plastic bag. Once home, put the gloves back on, sort through the leaves (you’ll probably have a blade of grass or two in there somewhere), pinch off any stems that feel firm, then dunk the sorted nettles in a large basin of cold water. Drain, and blanch as directed. Keep the gloves on till the nettles are cooked.