Leafy greens are one of my favorite foods. But not that of the Little One. To get them into her, I have to get sneaky and combine them with a buttery crust, preferably some mushrooms, and cheese. She thinks it’s a dairy meal, I call it vegetarian. So what does she get?
Actually I’m embarrassed about this quiche. It’s delectable to eat – looks pretty on the table – satisfies my Jewish Mother Feed’em Requirements and there’s never a scrap left over. But Elizabeth David, food writer whose scholarly, elegant works I’ve been re-reading, would turn her nose up at it. Quiche, according to the late, great Ms. David, real quiche, needs only cream and eggs, and “a small amount of streaky bacon.” No cheese. No vegetables of any description.
Oh dear. Well, times have changed. The classic Quiche Lorraine is still a thing of wonder (minus the bacon for kosher folk), but the cheese-and-veg-loaded tart is accepted by all as quiche too. So here mine is.
Years ago I found that the basic crust recipe from Molly Katzen’s The Enchanted Broccoli Forest works best for me. I don’t even get the food processor out to mix it up. I just rub the butter into the salty flour, scooping up more flour from the bowl to release any butter clinging to my fingers. I like the friction of grainy flour in my hands. The work relaxes me. But for those who don’t like that idea, just whirl your crust ingredients in the food processor.
Spinach and Mushroom Quiche
Ingredients for Crust:
1/4 cup cold butter, diced
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
water or milk – by tablespoons, as needed*
1. Rub the butter into the flour, or put the flour into the food processor and add the diced butter – till the mixture looks like coarse sand. Add the salt.
2. Add the liquid, one tablespoon at a time. * Note about the liquid for crust: Molly Katzen’s recipe calls for “up to 3 tablespoons.” That’s for American flour. Working with Israeli flour, I always need up to 5 tablespoons for the dough to hold together. Go slowly and stop adding liquid as soon as the dough holds together.
3. Make a ball of the dough, wrap it up in plastic wrap or a clean plastic bag, and chill it for an hour in the fridge.
Meantime, prepare your filling.
Ingredients for Filling:
2 cups fresh or frozen spinach
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
3 eggs, beaten
1 cup milk, buttermilk, or loose sour cream
salt and pepper to taste
Firm cheese to slice and lay over crust – about 200 grams – 7 oz. or 3/4 cup * Israelis: I use Hemed cheese. Katzen recommends Swiss or Cheddar as this first cheese.
1/2 cup another, mild cheese, for filling. Brie is good, but any mild cheese is good too.
1. If using fresh spinach, wash it and steam it quickly in its own rinse water. Add no salt. If using thawed-out frozen spinach, steam it with no added water or salt. Chop it up coarsely.
2. Chop the onion. Sauté it in a little olive oil or butter till it’s beginning to soften. Slice the mushrooms and add them to the pan. Sauté the vegetables till the mushrooms start to release their liquid. Season with salt and pepper. Remove the pan from the fire.
3. Beat the eggs in a large bowl. Add the milk and beat again. Add a pinch of salt and another of pepper. Set the bowl aside – in the fridge if the kitchen is hot.
4. Slice the first cheese. Chop the second cheese into large dice.
Assemble the Quiche:
1. Roll the dough out and fit it into your baking pan. I usually place a sheet of baking paper on the pan first because I hate to scrub out baking pans. But it’s not as pretty.
2. Fit the slices of firm cheese over the raw crust.
3. Mix the sautéed vegetables into the spinach; mound all on top of the crust.
4. Pour the beaten egg/milk mixture over and into the vegetables. Dot the cubed cheese all over.
Transfer (carefully) to the oven, pre-heated to 375° F -190°C. Bake 35-40 minutes.
This dairy, vegetarian dish is light yet filling – comfortable for lunch or dinner these hot days. Keep it in mind for Shavuot, too. Enjoy!