I have access to an abundance of local eggs where I live, which is wonderful but also leaves me with more eggs than I sometimes know what to do with. I've decided I need to start getting creative and bust out of my "eggs for breakfast" rut, and see what I can do with eggs for dinner. I have cooked eggs for dinner, but usually in a frittata or something similar. I actually have never made a quiche, so I thought it would be a good adventure for me to write about.
The first thing I did was peruse my favorite cooking websites and cookbooks to get the jist of what I needed to do: I need to make a crust, I need some veggies, and I need some cheese. The great thing about quiche is that the last two things on that list can be anything that sounds good to you. That being, said, I took inventory of what I had at home and also headed off to my local co-op to see what veggies they had. I came home with a small bag of crimini mushrooms, a few handfuls of spinach, and some local fresh oregano. Those ingredients mixed with a leek and some cheese I already had would prove to make a delicious quiche. So I had my fillings, but I still needed to make a crust.
In going over the recipes on Epicurious.com, I came across one that used a butter-based pastry dough instead of a standard shortening-based pie crust. While the recipe was quick to point out that a butter-based crust is less flaky than a shortening-based crust, it said that tasted delicious and is much easier to handle. So, I chose to abandon the crust I have been making for about 15 years and try something new and, to little surprise, they were absolutely right. The crust tastes delicious, has a light flakiness to it, and is very easy to work with. For those of you afraid to go near a homemade pie crust recipe, I highly recommend you try this one. The directions are simple and straight forward; I followed them to a "T" and the result was a great pie crust. Also, if you like the leaves in the picture above, check out the pie crust cutters at Williams-Sonoma. They are a great way to easily add additional flair to any pie, quiche, or tart, and to use up any leftover dough.
In making this quiche I have realized that quiches take a lot of time, mainly for the crust preparation, so plan accordingly. The link for the dough recipe will show you how long it takes, and note the additional chilling baking time for both the dough and the quiche indicated below. I made the dough, baked the crust, and prepped all the fillings (except the egg batter) one day and put it all together to bake the next. I promise that the time is absolutely worth the result!
This quiche can be made as breakfast, lunch, or dinner. For breakfast, pair with rosemary potatoes and fresh fruit. For lunch or dinner, make a quick side salad of mixed greens tossed in olive oil and white wine or champagne vinegar with a little salt and pepper. And remember, these mix-ins are only what I had on hand and what looked good at the co-op. You can add whatever you would like, but try to be local if you can!
Mushroom, Spinach, and Leek Quiche
Serves 6-8, depending on slice size
1 tbsp olive oil
5 crimini mushrooms, sliced
1 leek, sliced (green and white parts)
4 cloves garlic, roughly minced
2 packed cups spinach, torn
1/4 c fresh oregano, chopped
6 eggs (the more local and fresh the better)*
1 1/2 c milk (any type will work)
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 c freshly grated Parmesan
1/4 c freshly grated aged cheddar
Prepare all-butter pastry. Set aside. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add leeks and garlic, saute until leeks are soft. Add mushrooms and saute until dark and soft. Remove from heat.
Roll out the pastry dough on a lightly floured surface using a lightly floured rolling pin until you have about a 13-inch round. (If it isn't perfectly round that's okay, you can always use extra pie crust to cover any areas that might need it). Fit into a 9-inch pie pan. Tuck about 1/2 inch of the overhang underneath and press down with your thumb to reinforce the edge. Remove any additional dough (you can use this dough for any embellishments you like). Prick the bottom with a fork and chill for 30 minutes.
Line the pie shell with foil and pie weights (dried beans work fine too). Bake until the pastry is set and golden, 20-25 minutes. Remove foil and weights and then bake for another 15-20 minutes, until deep and golden all over. Put pie plate on a 4-sided sheet pan. Leave the oven on.
Whisk eggs, milk, nutmeg, and 1/4 tsp salt together in a large bowl until smooth. Add spinach, oregano, and 1/2 the cheese; stir to combine. Pour into prepared pie pan. Add leek-mushroom mixture and sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top.
Bake quiche until set, about 45-50 minutes. (The center will tremble slightly when moved; it will continue to set as it cools). Allow to sit for 20 minutes before serving.
*Note: I highly recommend using fresh, local eggs for this recipe. The flavor and color are so much better than conventional eggs, plus you are supporting your local economy. Local eggs are readily available these days, from your grocery store to your farmers' market. They might cost a bit more but it is absolutely worth it for the enhanced flavor and nutrition.