TANGENTIAL QUICHE WITH ASPARAGUS AND FENNEL

I would like to thank everyone who contacted me about my Mom’s passing.
It is a natural cycle of life to say goodbye to a parent, but it is still very painful.
Your kind words warmed my heart.

I’ve taken way too many liberties with recipe titles. Hummus without chickpeas? Yes, guilty of that one. Tortillas with no corn? Read my sentence. Rice-free risotto? Just take me. Today I add one more to the list. A quiche. But no crust. In fact, I’ve made a version almost exactly one year ago using sweet potato slices to cover the pie dish. We loved it so much that it’s hard to believe it took me so long to re-visit. This time I paired asparagus and fennel, with a small amount of cheese for good measure. Trickiest part of this recipe is getting the sweet potato slices to roast without shrinking too much and collapsing from the sides of the dish. Still, even if that happens, no major harm will be done. It is all going to be delicious.

SWEET POTATO CRUST QUICHE WITH ASPARAGUS AND FENNEL
(inspired by The Wimpy Vegetarian)

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 sweet potatoes, peeled, sliced thin
olive oil spray for potatoes
kosher salt (about 1 teaspoon total)
freshly ground pepper to taste
1 cup thinly sliced asparagus plus a few stalks left whole for decoration
1 large fennel bulb, diced
4 large eggs
2 egg whites
½ cup half-and-half
½ cup milk
1 teaspoon mustard powder
1/4 cup Gruyere cheese
nutmeg to taste

Heat oven to 400°F.

Coat a pie dish with the sliced potatoes, and spray a good amount of olive oil over the slices. Make sure to do a nice layer all around the edges coming up above the rim of the plate. Season lightly with salt. Place in the oven until the potatoes start to get some color, about 12 minutes. Reserve and lower the oven to 350 F.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the asparagus and fennel, season with salt and pepper, and sauté until just tender, about 8 minutes; set aside. Place the whole stalks in a microwave safe dish with a little water, microwave for 30 seconds. Reserve.

Whisk eggs, egg whites, half-and-half, milk, mustard powder,  half teaspoon salt and pepper in another large bowl. Spread the sautéed asparagus and fennel evenly on top of the sweet potato crust. Sprinkle the cheese on top of the vegetables. Pour the egg mixture over it all. Place the stalks of asparagus carefully on top. Grate fresh nutmeg across the top just before sliding into the oven.

Bake until quiche is set and crust is well browned, about 30 minutes, but check after 25 minutes in the oven. It should just jiggle lightly at the center.  Let cool to room temperature before cutting into wedges.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I love fennel but despise licorice. Go figure that one. My problem with fennel is that you buy this huge bulb and by the time you’re done prepping it, you are left with 1/4 cup at most of goodness. Oh, well. Maybe I don’t do a good job prepping it. But all instructions say to remove the tough outer layer. That “outer layer” is often so thick, a huge amount of fennel is gone once I remove it. Oh, well again. But I do love its flavor, both raw in salads, roasted, sautéed, it’s all great.  I am still learning my way around the sweet potato “crust.”  If you go to Susan’s site, you’ll  notice she opted for a hashbrown path to make the crust. That is definitely something to consider. At any rate, a quiche without the regular crust is so much lighter, and a lot quicker to prepare too. Obviously, you could omit the crust altogether, just coat the pie dish with a little butter or oil, add the veggies, pour the egg mixture and bake it. But it’s nice to have a bit of texture underneath.  Whatever you choose to do, this filling with asparagus and fennel, a touch of Gruyere (a favorite cheese of mine) is a winner.

 

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ONE YEAR AGO: Fakebouleh

TWO YEARS AGO: Yellow Squash Soup

THREE YEARS AGO: Grilled Chicken with Tamarind and Coconut Glaze

FOUR YEARS AGO: Chicken-Apricot Skewers

FIVE YEARS AGO:  Asparagus Quiche

SIX YEARS AGO: Two-stage Pea and Prosciutto Risotto

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Mellow Bakers: Corn Bread

 

SWEET POTATO CRUST QUICHE

This recipe captured my imagination the moment I saw it in Cooking Light and I could not wait to make it, because c’mon, we are talking quiche… I don’t know a single person who doesn’t like it. Ok, I take it back. My first husband didn’t. Obviously, things could not have ended well in that relationship. One wonders. Back to culinary issues, quiche is such a great recipe: it has elegance, it has substance, and you can come up with all sorts of variations for the filling. The only thing that gives me pause about making it is the pastry part, since it needs to be refrigerated, rolled out, etc etc. Not a huge deal breaker, but it definitely makes this delicacy less likely to show up at our table on weeknights.  This variation takes care of that problem. Instead of dealing with the dough, you grab a couple of sweet potatoes, peel them, slice them thin and call it a day. It also has the added bonus of being quite a bit lighter. What’s not to like?

Sweet Potato Crust Quiche

SWEET POTATO CRUST QUICHE
(adapted from Cooking Light magazine)

2 medium sweet potatoes
a few sprays of coconut oil
1 (5-ounce) bag baby spinach
1/2 cup full-fat milk
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
dash of freshly ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
4 large eggs
2 large egg whites
1.5 ounces feta cheese, crumbled

Heat the oven to 350°, then peel and slice sweet potatoes. Coat a pie dish with coconut cooking spray, then fill the bottom of the dish with a layer of sweet potato slices. Once the entire dish is filled, spray one more time with cooking spray and season lightly with salt. Bake for 20 minutes. Turn heat up to 375°.

For the filling, heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add spinach; sauté 3 minutes. Remove from heat; cool. Combine milk with all the spices and eggs in a bowl, stir well with a whisk. Arrange spinach mixture in crust; pour egg mixture over spinach. Sprinkle with feta. Bake at 375° for 35 minutes. Let stand for at least 10 minutes; cut into wedges.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

quichecompotsite

Comments: I loved this recipe! To me it was close to perfection because I liked the slight sweetness offered by the potato crust in contrast with the sharp feta cheese. However, Phil would prefer the crust to be harder, and due to the nature of sweet potatoes, that is not an easy task. He thought maybe if I baked the crust longer and at a higher temperature it could work better. It’s definitely worth experimenting. One of the issues is “shrinkage.”  Baking for the time specified in the recipe already caused the sides to shrink down considerably. I guess I could add a bit more slices to the sides and see how it goes. But, even with a slightly soft crust Phil thought the quiche was flavorful and made for a delicious side dish for our dinner. I know most people would serve it with a light salad, but we are meat lovers and savored a nice T-bone steak with it, medium-rare in all its glory. My apologies to all our vegetarian friends and two of my nieces in Brazil.

slice2

So many flavors going well together here!

 

ONE YEAR AGO: Chicken Thighs with Artichokes and Capers

TWO YEARS AGO: Pea Pancakes with Herbed Yogurt

THREE YEARS AGO: Mushroom Stroganoff

FOUR YEARS AGO: Tomato Sourdough

FIVE YEARS AGO: Gamberetti con rucola e pomodori

SIX YEARS AGO: Flirting with Orzo

THE SECRET RECIPE CLUB: ASPARAGUS QUICHE

The last Monday of each month arrives faster and faster, proving that Einstein got it right with his Theory of Relativity of time and space.  How else could we explain that I joined the SRC just a little while ago, blinked my eyes twice, and here I am, on my seventh post?

I had a complete blast with this month’s assignment: The Culinary Enthusiast!  A catchy blog name, by the way. Kelley lives in Chicago with her husband and a dog-child called Maddy, who gets to enjoy the many treats she cooks. See similarities between our households?   😉  Kelley has very creative recipes, and it took me a few days of “stalking” before I settled on my choice.   Asparagus Quiche.   Perfect for the season, perfect to remember Paris, perfect for a romantic weekend dinner.

SPRING ASPARAGUS QUICHE
(adapted from The Culinary Enthusiast)

1 recipe for pie crust (I used this one)
1 leek (white and light green parts only), halved and thinly sliced
salt and ground black pepper
1/2 bunch (about 1/2 pound) asparagus, tough ends removed, thinly sliced
3 asparagus stalks, trimmed and left whole (optional)
4 slices bacon, cut in large dice
4 large eggs
1 + 1/4 cups half-and-half
Ground nutmeg
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese (4 ounces)

Prepare the crust of your quiche, using the recipe of your choice.  Roll it out to cover your pie plate.  Prick the surface with a fork a few times, cover the bottom with aluminum foil, and place dried beans to keep the crust down during pre-baking.   Bake in a 400 F oven for 15 minutes, carefully remove the foil, place it back in the oven for 10 minutes more.   Remove from the oven, and reserve.

Bring the oven temperature down to 325 F, placing a rack in the lowest position.  In a large skillet, cook bacon until crispy.  Set aside on a paper towel lined plate, allow it to cool, and crumble into smaller pieces.  Reserve bacon grease in pan and add the leeks, cook for a few minutes, until softened.  Add the asparagus pieces, season with salt and pepper. Cook until the asparagus is crisp/tender, maximum 6 minutes. Let the mixture cool down.

In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, half-and-half, 1/2 teaspoon salt, teaspoon pepper, and a pinch of nutmeg. Place pie crust on a rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with half of the cheese; add the asparagus/leek mixture, top with crumbled bacon. Pour egg mixture on top, add the remainder of the cheese.

If you want to decorate the quiche with asparagus stalks, cook them slightly in a microwave for a minute, then place carefully on top.

Bake until center of quiche is just set, 50 to 60 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through. Let stand 15 minutes before serving.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

My main modification of the recipe was to pre-bake the crust, because I’ve had problems with the crust getting too soggy when I omitted that step.  I also did not use potatoes in the filling, but I know it would be awesome with them too!

As far as quiche goes, Phil and I had the perfect example at a small, unassuming place in Paris, called “Bistrot du Papa”.  Don’t go through the trouble of googleing it, it no longer exists.  We were in considerable distress when we attempted to go back on our last visit, only to find an Italian restaurant in its place.  Ever since enjoying that masterpiece, I tried to make it at home a couple of times, the traditional quiche Lorraine, but my versions had very little to do with the bistrot’s.

I must say this asparagus quiche was by far the best I’ve made!  Will I ever hit “Bistrot du Papa” level?  Quite unlikely.  They have a different type of cream, a different type of bacon, and then there’s the Parisian aura, hard to duplicate at home.  Oh, well…   We should have stopped there once a week for the duration of that magical sabbatical year!

We’ll always have Paris…
(great scene from Casablanca, 1942)

Kelley, thanks for a great recipe that brought the best gastronomical memories to our table!

Check out the other recipes in this month’s roundup  by clicking on the cute blue frog at the end of this post.

ONE YEAR AGO:  Spring Pasta

TWO YEARS AGO: Ice Cream Melts for Mango


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