To use up raw eggs, quiche is a good option. I like quiche because it can be an impressive choice for a brunch or special luncheon. Set your table with some pretty flowers, pair the quiche with a lightly dressed mixed greens salad and serve with a glass of crisp white wine. Quiche is also terrific for breakfast. With quiche, I also tend to think of it more on the springy side of the menu, using ingredients like asparagus or spinach.
Quiche is a custard made with eggs and milk, seasoning and other ingredients like onions and vegetables. Once the custard is mixed, pour it into a pie shell. The quiche can be shallow, about 1-inch tall and made in a 10- to 12-inch tart pan. Some are made in a standard pie dish or in a deep dish pie pan.
Most culinary sources peg quiche to originating in the Alsace-Lorraine area of northeastern France, hence the classic Quiche Lorraine. This classic version is made with cooked and crumbled bacon and a cheese like Gruyere – a Swiss-style cheese with nutty nuances.
The classic quiche crust is a pie crust. Use a store-bought crust if you like. When I make quiche, I always like to blind bake the crust before adding the filling. Blind baking simply means to bake the crust without the filling so it will not become soggy. Line the pan with the crust, prick it a few times with a fork and line it with foil. You can add dried beans or pie weights to keep the crust from puffing up.
There are other crust options, too, or you can go crustless. Puff pastry is also an option, as is phyllo dough, which is used in today’s recipe.
Phyllo is loved by many, but it can be a little tricky to work with the tissue-thin sheets of dough. One of the key factors in working with phyllo dough is keeping it covered with a damp tea towel or paper towel. Once the air hits the phyllo, it will dry out.
Since it’s often used in the layering process, if you make a little tear, it’s OK because you can cover it up with the next layer. Phyllo layers are typically brushed with melted butter (sometimes clarified), which gives it its crispiness. But if the layers are too butter-soaked they will tear.
While the custard part of today’s quiche recipe is basic, feel free to change up the vegetables and use what you have on hand.
ASPARAGUS QUICHE WITH PHYLLO CRUST
Makes: One 9-inch quiche (8 slices)
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Total time: 1 hour
Note: You can rewrap and freeze the unused phyllo dough.
4 large eggs
1 cup low-fat milk
1/2 cup fat-free or low-fat half-and-half
1 1/4 cups Italian-blend cheese
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
Salt and pepper to taste
8 sheets phyllo dough, thawed, 9-by-14-inch sheets
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups asparagus, cut in 1-inch pieces (plus 8 spears, about 3 inches long, with tips)
1 1/2 cups frozen leaf spinach or fresh spinach
4 thin slices of tomatoes
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Have ready a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate. In a medium bowl, whisk together the milk, half-and-half, cheese, Italian seasoning, flour, salt and pepper. Set aside.
Set the phyllo on a clean work surface and cover with a damp paper towel. Working with one sheet at a time, brush it lightly in streaks with the melted butter. Place one sheet in the pie plate in the center allowing at least 1 inch to hang over the edge. Brush another sheet and place it on top of the first one crosswise. Continue brushing the sheets with butter and layering them in this fashion, making sure you have an overhang around the entire edge. Fold the overhang over to form an edge and brush with butter.
Bake for 6-8 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a small skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the asparagus pieces and saute 3 to 5 minutes. Add the spinach and saute 2 minutes or until almost dry. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Remove partially baked phyllo crust from the oven. Place the asparagus-spinach mixture over the bottom of the crust. Pour the milk mixture over the asparagus. Arrange tomato slices in the center and then arrange the 8 asparagus spears in a circular pattern out from the tomato slices.
Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until filling is set and slightly puffy. If the edges begin to brown too quickly, cover them loosely with foil.
When filling is set, remove from the oven and let sit 10 minutes before slicing and serving.
234 calories (52 percent from fat), 14 g fat (7 g saturated fat), 16 g carbohydrates, 12 g protein, 367 mg sodium, 129 mg cholesterol, 2 g fiber.