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Frittatine di Ortica (Stinging Nettle Subrich)

(recipe, Jim Dixon)

Introduction

This recipe was adapted from Faith Willinger's Red, White, and Greens, one of my favorite cookbooks. She says they’re called subrich (soo-brick) in the local dialect in the Piemonte town where she found them. Frittatine means “little frittatas,” and since they contain an egg binder it’s as good a name as any, but I usually just call them “fried green things.” There's also a chard version on my website.

Ingredients

  1. 2 to 3 lb. nettles (leaves and slender stalks), enough to yield about 2 cups when cooked and squeezed dry
  2. 1 to 2 bulbs spring garlic, including 3 to 4 inches of the green tops (or 3 to 4 cloves ordinary garlic)
  3. 3 eggs, plus one more if needed
  4. 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese
  5. 1 tsp. sea salt
  6. 1 to 1½ cup breadcrumbs, preferably homemade (see Note)
  7. Extra-virgin olive oil
  8. Juice of one lemon

Steps

  1. Using tongs or wearing gloves, drop the nettles into 3 to 4 quarts of rapidly boiling salted water. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes, then lift out, drain in colander, and squeeze dry when slightly cooled. Reserve the water for soup stock.
  2. Coarsely chop the drained and cooled greens, removing any thick stems, then place in a food processor (or chop finely by hand and place in a bowl).
  3. Coarsely chop spring garlic and add to processor or bowl. Process with nettles until finely chopped.
  4. Add eggs, cheese, salt, and breadcrumbs; process until well blended.
  5. Test consistency; the mixture should just hold together when pressed into a ball. If not, add another egg and process briefly. If too wet, add more breadcrumbs.
  6. In a heavy skillet, heat enough extra-virgin olive oil to cover the bottom until it just begins to simmer. Use two soup spoons to shape roughly egg-shaped ovals of the nettle mixture. Slide them into the oil and flatten gently.Cook for 3 to 4 minutes or until nicely browned, then flip and cook other side. Remove from skillet, place on a rack or paper towel, and keep warm while cooking the rest.
  7. Serve warm with a squeeze of lemon juice.

Note

I make breadcrumbs by setting the last few slices of whatever old bread I have out on the counter to dry for a few days, then pulverizing them in a food processor. You can speed this up by drying the bread in a warm oven. Read more in Jim Dixon's Produce Diary on nettles.