For the first twenty-two or so years of my life, my experience with quiches was limited solely to the miniature frozen variety — the ones from Costco that came in boxes of half Lorraine and half Florentine (or, in my mind, half yellow and half green), most often bought for my mother’s potlucks or just for late-night snacks, pale and anemic until you popped them in the oven and warmed them to golden life. (Or microwaved them, in which case they stayed pretty anemic but still tasted delicious.) There’s plenty to love about those already (I still love them, no shame) — tiny bites of buttery crust, giving way to creamy, salty-savory middles with a hint of salty bacon or spinach. So it probably goes without saying that when I finally tried a quiche in all its full-sized, deep-dish glory from a Cambridge bakery a couple of years ago, thick and substantial, stippled with caramelized leeks and smoky from thick-cut bacon and good Gruyere, I was more than sold.
The first quiches I made at home were as close a replica to that one as I could find (and it’s easy enough to change this recipe to that one; I put some cursory notes below in case you want to and so that I don’t bait and switch any bacon-lovers), but because I’m impatient for the reluctant spring that still won’t come (or at least stay) here in New York, this one is my wishful-thinking spring rendition. (I know, I’m turning into a broken record on this front.) The week-long stretches of cold, gloom, and rain notwithstanding, the spring produce is happy and green and tender, so this got a bundle or two of perfectly slender asparagus and some green peas, along with crumbles of my favorite Vermont Creamery goat cheese and some Manchego for good measure. A little bit of white whole wheat flour (more on that soon!) gives the crust an extra nuttiness that goes well with the Manchego and adds a flavorful body that I liked, and, though I didn’t here, you could always throw in some crisped-up bacon or prosciutto for more salty variety. And lastly, I experimented a little bit with replacing cream in the quiche with Greek yogurt — you could totally do this if you want, and I found it to work fine (though slightly wigglier when it was fully-baked), but for me personally, there’s just nothing like cream for a satisfying egg-y brunch. Here’s to plenty of those this spring.
- for the crust:
- 1 1/4 cup (155 grams) all-purpose flour (or half white whole wheat, half all-purpose)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) frozen, unsalted butter
- 3-4 tbsp ice cold water
- for the asparagus and peas:
- 8 oz trimmed asparagus stalks, sliced into 1-inch pieces (about 2 cups)
- 1-2 tsp olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 tbsp chicken broth (optional)
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1/3 cup green peas
- to assemble:
- 3/4 to 1 cup grated Gruyère, or Manchego, divided
- 3 large eggs
- 1/2 cup heavy cream (or a creamy, full-fat Greek yogurt -- I like Fage)
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- salt and pepper, to taste (I used about 1/4 tsp salt and 1/8 tsp pepper)
- 1/8 tsp grated nutmeg
- 2-3 oz Vermont Creamery goat cheese, crumbled or cut to small pieces (any kind; I used regular fresh, but if you wanted to splurge on some aged goat cheese I think it would be fantastic)
- Make the crust: Whisk together the flour and salt in a bowl. Using the largest holes on a box grater, grate frozen butter into the bowl, then mix with a wooden spoon or your fingers until pea-sized crumbles form. Add the ice-cold water and stir until a crumbly dough forms and a fistful of the dough holds together when squeezed. Gently knead it together into a disk. Wrap and chill for at least 1 hour, or overnight.
- Preheat your oven to 425° F. On a well-floured surface or between two pieces of parchment paper (I prefer the floured surface, for ease), roll the dough to 1/4- to 1/8-inch in thickness. For me, the larger the dough circle, the better. Gently transfer the crust to a 9-inch pie pan or tart pan with a removable bottom. Trim the excess dough if there is any, or fold it under itself, and crimp to your desire. Freeze for 15-20 minutes.
- For the asparagus: Meanwhile, slice the asparagus into 1-inch pieces, if you haven’t already. (Word to the wise: cut them smaller than I show them in the photos, or else your slices will be difficult to cut cleanly!) Heat the oil in a large saucepan or wok over high heat until shimmering. Add the garlic and fry for just a few seconds before adding the asparagus. Sauté the asparagus briefly, tossing with a spatula, until evenly coated in oil, then add the chicken stock, if using (water will work fine in its place), turn the heat to low, and cover. Let steam on low heat for 5-8 minutes, or until bright green and slightly tender, but still firm. Stir in the peas, then set aside.
- Back to the crust: Prick the frozen pie crust bottom with a fork, then cover with parchment paper, fill with dried beans or pie weights, and bake at 425° F until lightly golden-brown at the edges, about 10-13 minutes. Remove the parchment paper and beans, then bake for a few minutes more, until the pie crust bottom appears dry. Optional: Sprinkle about 1/4 to 1/2 cup grated cheese over the bottom of the pie, then return the crust to the oven one more time for 1-2 minutes, or until cheese is melted. Remove the crust and reduce oven temperature to 375° F.
- For the filling: Whisk together the remaining grated cheese, eggs, cream (or Greek yogurt), milk, nutmeg, and black pepper. Pour the asparagus and peas into the pie crust, reserving 1 cup or so to layer on top, if desired. Dot the vegetables evenly with goat cheese. Pour the egg mixture gently over the vegetables, then layer with remaining asparagus and peas. If you like, you can finish with a slight sprinkling of more cheese, which adds a nice browning to the top of the quiche. Bake until just set but still slightly wiggly in the center, about 30-40 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.
A note on the egg-to-liquid ratio: I used a ratio I found in a number of places, attributed to Julia Child, which has you put the eggs in a liquid measuring cup and then add however much liquid (cream, half-and-half, or milk) to bring the ratio to 1/2 cup of egg-liquid mixture per egg. So, for 3 eggs, you would put the eggs in a measuring cup and then add enough liquid to bring the mixture to 1 1/2 cups. Technically, that means 3 eggs should use a little less than 1 cup, but I used these measurements for simplicity's sake -- especially because another Julia Child recipe I've seen in a number of places calls for 3 eggs and far more cream, about 1 1/2 cups. You can up the liquid to that amount if you like, for a softer quiche.
That said, quiche is endlessly customizable once you have a trusty egg-to-liquid ratio. Another favorite of mine is leek, bacon, and Gruyere -- just crisp up about 2-3 ounces of bacon (4-6 rashers) in the oven or on the stove, saute about 1 cup of sliced leeks in a few tablespoons of butter (or reserved bacon fat!) until tender and caramelized (about 15 minutes), and use these in place of the asparagus and green peas, above. Omit the goat cheese.