My family is not big on eggs, but they do love a nice slice of quiche. Luckily for me, the savory egg custard baked in a pie crust is easy to make (especially if you use a refrigerated crust) and easier still to personalize with favorite meats, vegetables and cheeses — often all the above at the same time.
Quiche Lorraine, made with a savory mix of crunchy bacon, sauteed onion and Gruyère or Swiss cheese, is probably the most famous of the custard pies, but if you’re trying to cut back on meat (or maybe you’ve just seen the price of bacon — wow!), it’s just as easy to overload the filling with fresh veggies.
This vegetarian quiche combines two easy-to-find winter staples — bagged baby spinach and fresh mushrooms — with shredded Swiss and Parmesan cheeses. It bakes up light and creamy with a flaky crust. Served with a simple salad, some crusty Italian bread and a light red wine, it makes a terrific winter dinner or elegant brunch dish.
I used Martha Stewart’s recipe for pate brisee to make the pastry crust because it’s fail-proof (and makes enough for two quiches). But there is no shame in substituting a pre-made refrigerated crust. Anything that gets dinner on the table with the least amount of fuss is good in my book, especially as we get back to the grind after the long holiday season. Just be sure to pre-bake it for 10 minutes with the bottom covered in parchment and filled with pie weights or dried beans (I use dry kidney beans) so it’s crispy instead of soggy.
Mushroom and spinach quiche
Quiche can be served hot or cold. To reheat the next day for breakfast, place the cold slices on a rimmed baking sheet, cover with aluminum foil and bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 15 minutes.
For pie crust
2½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
¼-½ cup ice water
Parchment paper, for lining pan
Dried beans, rice or pie weights, for pan
1 tablespoon oil or butter (I used bacon grease)
1 shallot, thinly sliced
8 ounces thinly sliced fresh mushrooms, any variety
Salt and pepper
5 ounces baby spinach
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup half-and-half
1 cup light or heavy cream
Sprinkle or two of freshly ground nutmeg
8 ounces shredded or finely chopped Swiss cheese
½ cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Prepare pie crust: In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour, salt and sugar. Add butter and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal, 8-10 seconds.
With machine running, add ice water in a slow, steady stream through feed tube. Pulse until dough holds together without being wet or sticky; be careful not to process more than 30 seconds. To test, squeeze a small amount together. If it is crumbly, add more ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time.
Divide dough into two equal balls. Flatten each ball into a disc and wrap in plastic. Transfer to the refrigerator and chill at least 1 hour. (This recipe makes a double crust — extra crust can be stored, frozen, up to 1 month.)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Roll out dough: Remove the disc from the refrigerator and let it sit for 10-15 minutes so that it becomes easier to roll out. Place disc on a lightly floured, clean, flat surface. Sprinkle some flour on top of the disk. Roll out the dough to a 12-inch circle, to a thickness of about ⅛ of an inch.
Line a 9-inch pie plate with rolled-out pastry. Cover the bottom of the pastry with a parchment paper and add enough dried beans, dried rice or pie weights to partly fill the shell. Bake 10 minutes, or until slightly browned.
Reduce the oven heat to 375 degrees. Remove the beans and parchment paper and set the baked pie crust aside while you make filling.
Heat oil or butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add sliced shallot and cook until transparent, 1-2 minutes. Add mushrooms and a pinch or two of salt and a good grind of pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned and tender, about 8 minutes. Add spinach and cook, tossing constantly, until wilted, 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat.
Whisk eggs, half-and-half and cream in a medium bowl. Add a pinch of nutmeg, then fold in the mushroom/spinach mixture, along with cheeses. Spoon into the prepared pie crust.
Bake quiche until set and golden brown, about 30 minutes. Let stand on a wire rack for 10 minutes before slicing. Quiche can be served warm or at room temperature.