The White Dead Nettle and a delicious Quiche Recipe
Updated: Aug 26
I just love to have something in the fridge that I can grab on the go. Like most people weekdays are fast and furious and the time required to make pastry simply isn’t there. This dish is a great to bake on a Sunday, so it will last all week but it also makes great use of a rarely written about ingredient, the dead nettle!
The White Dead Nettle
Firstly, a little about the dead nettle. The white dead nettle, also known as Lamium album, is a common wildflower found in the United Kingdom. It belongs to the mint family (Lamiaceae) and is native to Europe, including the UK. Here are some key characteristics of the white dead nettle:
Appearance: The white dead nettle is a herbaceous perennial plant that typically grows up to 30-40 centimeters in height. It has square stems, opposite leaves, and produces clusters of white flowers.
Leaves: The leaves of the white dead nettle are heart-shaped with toothed margins. They are usually green but may have white or silver markings, especially on the veins.
Flowers: The white dead nettle produces flowers from late spring to early summer. The flowers are tubular, white or pale pink in color, and arranged in whorls around the stem. They are attractive to bees and other pollinators.
Habitat: White dead nettles are often found in hedgerows, woodlands, meadows, and other open habitats. They can thrive in both sun and shade and are commonly seen in parks and gardens as well.
Benefits and uses: While white dead nettle is not typically used for culinary purposes like its close relative, the common dead nettle (Lamium purpureum), it does have some medicinal uses. Traditionally, the plant has been used to treat minor wounds, skin conditions, and respiratory issues. However, it is always recommended to consult a qualified herbalist or healthcare professional before using any plant for medicinal purposes.
It's worth noting that the white dead nettle is not related to stinging nettles, which have stinging hairs that can cause discomfort when touched.
If you encounter the white dead nettle in the UK, it can be a delightful addition to the local flora, attracting pollinators and adding beauty to the natural surroundings.
White Dead Nettle Recipes
While the white dead nettle (Lamium album) is not as commonly used in cooking as other herbs and greens, it is delicious and here are some recipe ideas and ways to incorporate this ingredient into your meals:
Infused Tea: White dead nettle leaves can be used to make a soothing herbal tea. Simply steep a handful of fresh leaves in hot water for a few minutes, strain, and enjoy. You can also mix it with other herbs like mint or lemon balm for added flavor.
Edible Garnish: The tender leaves and flowers of the white dead nettle can be used as an edible garnish to add a touch of color and visual appeal to salads, soups, or other dishes. It can be sprinkled on top just before serving.
Herbal Vinegar: Create a flavored vinegar by infusing white dead nettle leaves in white wine or apple cider vinegar. Place the leaves in a clean glass jar, cover them with vinegar, and let it sit for a few weeks. Strain the leaves and use the infused vinegar for dressings, marinades, or even as a refreshing drink when mixed with water.
Stir-fries and Sautéed Dishes: White dead nettle leaves can be added to stir-fries or sautéed with other vegetables for a mild herbal flavor. Use it as you would use other leafy greens like spinach or Swiss chard.
Pesto or Herb Butter: As mentioned earlier, you can make a pesto using white dead nettle leaves, combining them with nuts, garlic, cheese, and olive oil. Alternatively, you can chop the leaves finely and mix them with softened butter to create an herb-infused spread for bread or cooked vegetables.
Remember to harvest white dead nettle leaves from clean, pesticide-free areas and wash them thoroughly before use. As with any wild edible plant, ensure proper identification and be cautious if you have any allergies or sensitivities.
White Dead Nettle and Sorrel Quiche with Wild Herb Pastry
So here's a favourite recipe of mine, that I always seem to come back to when I find a patch of white dead nettles, plus a few other wild herbs. The white dead nettle quiche. Starting with the pastry.
Wild Herb Pastry
500g plain flour (organic if you have it)
200g butter (cubed and cold)
50g grated strong cheddar
Small bunch of wild herbs (wild thyme, wild chives whatever you want!)
2 large free range eggs
Splash of milk
Pastry is not complicated, especially if you have got a blender. Put the flour, butter and cheese into the blender and blend until a bread crumb texture is achieved. Now season and add your favourite chopped wild herbs and both the eggs, pulse the blender until the mix is starts to come together. Add a splash of milk, pulse again until the mix starts to come together into a single ball of pastry. Empty the pastry onto the side and gently push the pastry together (be careful not to knead the pastry). Wrap in cling film and place into the fridge until ready (at least 30 minutes though!!).
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White Dead Nettle and Sorrel quiche filling
400ml Creme Fraiche
3 Tbsp Milk
4 Free Range Eggs
100g of Ricotta
Good bunch of young White Dead Nettles (in flower)
Handful of Sorrel leaves
Firstly, de-leaf your Dead Nettles wash and chop the leaves. Next pluck the white flower heads from the stalks and also set aside (fiddly but worth it). Chop your Sorrel leaves and place them with your chopped dead nettle leaves. In a bowl mix your creme fraiche, milk and eggs. Season and add your ricotta cheese, chopped sorrel and dead nettle leaves, plus half of the white dead nettle flowers. Place in the fridge until ready.
Get the oven warming to 190 degrees.
To assemble the Quiche, take half of the pastry (the remaining pastry can be frozen ) and roll into a round (bigger than your chosen quiche tin). Generously butter your tin and then firm the pastry into it (pricking the base of the pastry with a fork). Cover with baking paper, add your baking beans and then bake the pastry case for 15 minutes.
Next remove from the oven, take out the baking beans and paper and then let the pastry have another 10 minutes in the oven to lightly brown.
Again remove from the oven but allow the pastry to cool slightly. Turn the oven down to 180 degrees. When the mix has cooled slightly gently spoon the mix into the dish. Finally sprinkle over the remaining white dead nettle flowers and return to the oven for the final cooking - 35 minutes or so until the eggs have set and the middle is no longer wobbly.
Enjoy this fantastic white dead nettle and sorrel quiche with a green salad, if you have the time or alternatively just grab a slice on the run!
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