Despite their prickly reputation, stinging nettles are a tasty, nutrient-dense vegetable. In this article, you’ll find out how to make your own delicious stinging nettle quiche!
Every year around this time (late winter through early spring), we get really excited when we see our stinging nettle patch bounce to life. Why the heck would we be excited to see a stinging plant typically loathed by hikers and gardeners alike?
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For starters, stinging nettle is a perennial vegetable that requires no tending (you actually have to fight to contain it). Secondly, it might just be the most nutrient-dense green on the planet. It also has a wonderful flavor reminiscent of cucumbers and spinach; its high protein content even contributes some umami notes when the leaves are cooked.
To be clear, there are precautions you’ll want to take when intentionally growing or harvesting stinging nettle, as we detail in our article, Why you should grow and use stinging nettle. Otherwise, you could end up with a yard full of nettle and very stingy hands.
Stinging nettle leaves are best used before the plant starts to produce flowers and seeds, so we pick all we can during the current ~6-8 week time window. We also wilt and freeze as much as we can for later use. (Our toddler loves stinging nettle & mushroom omelettes for lunch, so we’ve got to stock the freezer.)
What can you make with stinging nettle?
Stinging nettle is a very versatile veggie. When in doubt, you can simply substitute wilted/cooked stinging nettle 1:1 for cooked spinach in any recipe. A couple of our favorite original stinging nettle recipes from years past:
With our ducks starting to lay eggs again, we wanted to come up with some good egg & stinging nettle recipes to have on hand. Thus, the creation of this stinging nettle quiche recipe.
In addition to eggs, it puts A LOT of stinging nettle to use. It’s also absolutely delicious.
After her first piece, The Tyrant had seconds… and considered having thirds. Our toddler also wolfed down his serving. Nuff said.
Stinging nettle quiche recipe tips
Here are important tips and considerations to get this recipe right on your first attempt:
This recipe uses a pie pan that is 1 1/4″ deep x 9″ across (measuring from the inside). It holds exactly 4 cups of filling.
Before getting started, pour a measured amount of water into your pie pan to determine how much it holds. More than 4 cups? Consider scaling up the ingredients a bit more to suit.
A little trick we use when making new recipes like this stinging nettle quiche that require fairly precise quantities: mix the ingredients in a large measuring bowl so you get the quantities right BEFORE you pour them into the pie pan.
In this case, you have to also consider a pie crust taking up some room, plus the rise of the quiche during baking, plus the addition of cheese on top. So, we had about 3 cups of quiche filling prior to pouring it into the crust.
2. Pie crust
a. You don’t have to use a pie crust for this recipe. You can go crustless and still end up with a delicious meal that will be more akin to a frittata.
b. You can use any pie crust you want for this recipe (just keep in mind the measurements mentioned above). We like making our own whole wheat pie crust using pastry flour. If you need a whole wheat pie crust recipe, Lively Table has a good one. Or you can go into more uncharted territory by making a chestnut flour pie crust.
c. Pre-bake your pie crust for about 15-20 minutes until slightly browned on the edges BEFORE adding filling and baking. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a raw, soggy crust. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
If you do make your own pie crust, don’t forget to poke holes in it with a fork prior to baking or it will bubble up and break. Nope, no time for that either. (Aren’t you glad you’re reading these recipe notes so you don’t make any mistakes?)
3. Fine-dice and pre-cook onions
If you add raw onions to the quiche filling, you’ll end up with semi-raw, crunchy onions and a watery quiche. Instead:
- finely dice your onions (about 1/4″ or smaller pieces);
- pre-cook your diced onions in a skillet/pan with a bit of extra virgin olive oil until slightly translucent and browned (let them cool to room temperature before adding to quiche filling).
You can then use that nice onion-seasoned pan to wilt your stinging nettles during the next step (see below).
4. How to process and wilt stinging nettle (and how much nettle you need)
After cutting the growth tips of stinging nettle plants, we recommend cutting off individual leaves for use in this recipe, e.g. don’t use the stems. You can either compost the stems or save them for veggie stock. If you use the stems, you’ll end up with a very fibrous quiche.
How much raw stinging nettle do you need? We picked about 8 densely packed cups of stinging nettle leaves (measuring ONLY the leaves after the stems were removed).
For precision, we weighed the 8 cups of stinging nettle leaves, which totaled a whopping 3.6 ounces. The 8 cups of raw leaves then cooked down to about 2 cups of wilted stinging nettle leaves, which is enough for two stinging nettle quiches. (You only need one cup of wilted leaves per quiche.)
Don’t boil your stinging nettle leaves or you’ll cook out the nutrients and weaken the flavor. If we find out you boiled your leaves, we’ll also unfriend you.
Instead, you can either steam the leaves OR wilt them in a pan (which is what we did for this recipe). To wilt your stinging nettle leaves, put a pan or cast iron skillet over medium low heat (3 on our stove), then add some extra virgin olive oil. For our 8 cups of nettle leaves, we used about 1 1/2 tablespoons of EV olive oil. Also, have a measuring cup with water in it next to the stove.
Add the leaves plus a shot of water, and stir, stir, stir. Add another shot of water and continue stirring. You’re NOT trying to brown the leaves (the water prevents scalding), you’re trying to wilt them. You also don’t want soggy leaves, you want them dry, so don’t add too much water. (We used a little under half a cup of water when wilting 8 cups of leaves using this method.)
Once the stinging nettle leaves are wilted/cooked down and there is no water in your pan, remove from heat and let them cool down close to room temperature before adding them to the quiche filling. Repeat: soggy stinging nettle leaves are forbidden: they’ll make a soggy quiche.
If in doubt, wring out your nettle leaves to remove excess water by hand before adding them to your quiche filling. No, stinging nettles don’t sting once they’ve been cooked, so fear not.
5. Cook time
Every oven is a little different in how it bakes. We bake our stinging nettle quiche on 350°F for right at 1 hour. You want it to rise and be firm in the middle.
Arguably, we over-cook ours a bit. Regardless, you’ll want to start paying careful attention to how your quiche is baking after about 50 minutes. If your oven cooks hotter than ours or you prefer a slightly less well-done quiche than we do, you can take your quiche out early.
Recipe: Stinging nettle quiche
Now, with the above recipe tips in mind, let’s get cooking so you can enjoy a delicious piece (or three) of stinging nettle quiche for your next meal!
Stinging nettle quiche
A delicious, savory quiche made with stinging nettles. You won't be able to eat just one piece!
- 1 pie crust, pre-cooked for about 15-20 minutes until slightly browned
- 1 cup pre-wilted stinging nettle leaves (see wilting instructions in article) 4 cups fresh leaves cooks down to 1 cup wilted leaves
- 4 large chicken or duck eggs
- 1/2 white or yellow onion, fine-diced then pre-cooked until translucent and golden brown
- 1 cup fresh-grated white or yellow cheddar cheese (half is for filling, half is for topping)
- 1 cup fresh-grated parmesan cheese (half is for filling, half is for topping)
- 1 cup whole organic milk (ideally grass-fed) (Most quiche recipes call for heavy cream, which you can use. We prefer whole milk.)
- 1/4 tsp sea salt (optional - cheese adds quite a bit of salt and there may also be salt in your pie crust)
- 1/4 tsp fresh-cracked black pepper
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
- extra virgin olive oil as-needed for cooking onions and wilting nettle leaves, 2-3 tbsp
Pre-cook onions and stinging nettle as per instructions in article, then let cool to close to room temp. Pre-cook pie crust for 15-20 minutes until golden brown.
Pre-heat oven to 350°F.
Mix two cheeses together in bowl, then set aside 1 cup for topping. Whisk eggs then stir in all other ingredients to make your filling. Pour filling into pie crust, then top with 1 cup of mixed cheese that you set aside.
Bake for about 1 hour or until quiche is golden brown on the surface and has risen all the way to the middle (the sides will rise first). Place pan on cooling rack and allow quiche to cool until warm (not hot) before cutting and serving. Garnish (optional) with seasonal flowers and a dash of ground nutmeg.
If you’re able to eat only one piece of this stinging nettle quiche, we salute you for your temperance. Regardless, let us know how yours turns out and please consider giving this recipe a rating below!
Dive deeper into stinging nettle with these related articles:
- Why you should grow and use stinging nettle
- Duck egg stinging nettle pasta with white whole wheat flour
- Stinging nettle pesto with green garlic
- Raw stinging nettle soup (yes, seriously!)