10 April 2012
Asparagus and spinach quiche
We definitely had eggs on the brain for spring fertility festival weekend. Not hard-boiled and dyed eggs, though--cracked, beaten, seasoned, mixed with cream, and poured in a tart shell. For extra spring fertility goodness, I stuffed in all the new asparagus and spinach in the crisper. That's right; I made quiche.
I got my filling inspiration from this crustless quiche from Dana's Food For Thought. I knew I'd have to use a crust, though, since my tin has a removable bottom. Clearly, we couldn't have raw custard running all over the oven, so I looked around and came up with this quick quiche crust recipe.
I thrifted our tart tin a couple months ago, but for some reason we hadn't used it until now. In all seriousness, I have kind of a kitchenware thrifting obsession, which does not fit in very well at all with our otherwise minimal aesthetic. (Ok, there are also a million books, but still.) I try to stay realistic and only buy what we actually need. But this was a real excellent French tart tin with the matching bottom actually still in it! Super exciting. Tarts! Pastries! Quiche!
Our tin isn't a standard size--the diameter is about 8 inches--but that didn't affect the finished product much at all. I just poured my extra eggs and vegetables into a highly buttered muffin tin and baked a couple of tiny extra quiches to freeze.
Asparagus and spinach quiche
piecrust of your choice (to fit standard tin or pie pan)
1/2 cup heavy cream
2/3 bunch of asparagus
2 cloves garlic
a little red onion
a couple big handfuls of fresh spinach
Start by making your crust, so it's all ready for your filling later. I followed the aforementioned crust recipe just about to the letter, including not blind baking it in advance. This was the only problem with our finished product--underdone crust in the middle. You can avoid this pretty easily. Just whip up your crust recipe of choice, press it into your tart tin or pie pan, prick it all over with a fork, maybe weight it down with a handful of dried beans, and bake it for about five to eight minutes at 400F/200C. You can let this bake while you prep the vegetables and eggs, and set it aside (removing the pie weights) until you're ready to use it. This way your crust will cook through and your oven will be all preheated for the actual quiche baking later.
For the egg mixture, crack four eggs into a mixing bowl and beat them with a fork. When they're relatively smooth and amalgamated, add in half a cup of cream, a cloud of grated parmesan, salt and pepper to taste, and a handful of chopped parsley, and mix again. You can use other dairy besides heavy cream if you prefer; I just happened to have some lying around and needed to use it up. However, it's worth noting that a higher fat content will produce a more custardy and less just eggy quiche filling.
Set the egg mixture aside while you prep the vegetables. I used one wide saute pan to do two separate veg preps. First, fill your pan with about an inch of water and put it on high heat. While you're waiting, wash and trim your asparagus. When the water boils, add the asparagus to the pan and blanch for about a minute and a half to two minutes. Then immediately take out the asparagus, shock it in cold water to stop the cooking, and set it aside.
Dump the water out of your pan, put it back on medium heat, and add a little butter or olive oil. Add a finely chopped shallot, a couple cloves of garlic, and maybe some red onion if you have it lying around. (I'd been trying to use up half a red onion for days, so I just threw it in.) Let these soften together while you wash, destem, and chop up your spinach. Then add the spinach to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until it's entirely wilted. This should take maybe two minutes.
All your quiche components are ready--now it's time to combine and bake. Start by spreading your spinach and onion mixture into the crust. Pour your eggs over it, making sure to distribute evenly. Fill to just below the top of the crust, leaving maybe 1/4 inch of clearance so you won't have to worry about overflow later. Then take your asparagus spears and arrange them across the top of the quiche. If you want to make a pattern or whatever, go nuts; I just tried to pack mine in densely for plenty of asparagus goodness. Finish with a thin layer of grated cheese. If you have leftover vegetables and egg, go ahead and make some little extra quiches in a muffin tin or what have you.
Put your quiche on a cookie sheet and bake at 400F/200C for about 25 to 30 minutes, rotating halfway through cooking if necessary. Little quiches will take less time, so keep an eye on them.
When your quiche puffs up and turns an even golden brown on top, take it out and check it for doneness. You can just do the standard cake trick and test the center with a toothpick; if the toothpick comes out clean, your quiche is done. Another way to check is to give the tin a quick shake and see if it jiggles liquidly or just stays still and set. Both methods work pretty well for me.
Let your quiche cool for five minutes or so before you take it out of the tin (assuming you have a tin that allows this) and slice it.
I find that quiche more or less stands alone, but it's always good with a big green salad and a glass of white wine. If you're doing quiche for breakfast, you can always have lots of coffee or tea with it. Or you can have some cut fruit: strawberries, melon, or mango would be my top choices.
In conclusion, yay quiche! We're definitely going to be eating a lot more of this in the near future, spring fertility festival nonwithstanding.