fresh spinach and goat cheese quiche
<The first time I made this it was out of desperation. We were bringing lunch to my grandparents one Saturday. More specifically, I had promised to bring a quiche — because my grandmother loves them. The night before, I made a soup to serve with. I had planned to buy a quiche and some freshly baked bread at my local specialty market. I figured, I’d made the soup from scratch, so buying the quiche didn’t seem like too much of a cheat. At about 9:00 Saturday morning, I threw on some shorts and headed to the store. With my grocery basket, I circled through the fresh vegetable displays and the meat counter over to the bakery where I picked up a still-warm-from-the-oven baguette. So far, so good. I headed to the deli for the quiche – then panic! — no quiche in the display (where they always have plenty of them) and nothing “just about to come out of the oven in the back.” Nothing, nada, nyet. I was
screwed. Er, I needed a Plan B. Make a quiche. I did a quick mental inventory of what I had at home in the fridge and what I would need to pull this together. Ready made pie-crust — no time to make my own. Don’t judge me! Some half and half, heavy cream, and eggs… Purchases in tow, I came home and started rifling through the fridge. Oooh, I had leeks. There was fresh fennel! Spinach — she loves spinach! More hunting turned up a few mushrooms and some pancetta. I rolled my eyes — I didn’t get any cheese — the only thing handy was some leftover chevre – I was determined to make it work. It took about 40-45 minutes to assemble and an hour to bake. My piping hot creation came out of the oven, I covered it lightly with a clean dish towel and placed it in the backseat of the car with my daughter guarding it from any sudden bumps. 40 minutes later, we arrived at my “hungry and happy to see us” grandparents house. Catastrophe (ok, – mild melt-down) averted! My grandmother doesn’t have the appetite she used to, but when she finished off a healthy portion, I knew it was a success! By the way – the rest of my guinea pigs (aka family) cleaned their plates too!
While the color of this quiche is vibrant, the flavor of the warm custard is subtle and mild yet fragrant. There’s a salty bite from the pancetta, the rich umami from the mushrooms, the tanginess of the goat cheese and the grassy clean flavor of the spinach. Heaven.
- 1 9-inch deep dish pastry shell (I used Pillsbury)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup diced pancetta
- 1 cup sliced baby bella mushrooms, stems removed, sliced
- 3 leeks, cut in half lengthwise and sliced into half moons
- 1 fennel bulb, trimmed of feathery fronds and coarsely chopped
- 3 shallots, peeled and coarsely chopped
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
- 4 eggs
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup half and half
- 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg (I keep whole nutmeg in my pantry and use my microplane to grate it -- but you can use ground nutmeg)
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 9 ounce bag fresh spinach leaves
- Preheat oven to 400°. Lay crust into pie pan, folding edges under at the rim to create a double thick edge. Using the tines of a fork, crimp around the edges of the crust. Prick the bottom of pie crust several times with a fork. Cut a piece of parchment or aluminum foil large enough to cover the pastry and place it on top. Fill the parchment or foil with about 1 cup of uncooked rice or dried beans or pastry weights, if you have them. Bake for 10-12 minutes until crust is slightly golden and set aside.
- Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a 9-inch skillet over medium heat. (I have a gas stovetop which runs a little hot, so medium works for me -- you may have to adjust your temperature up or down depending on your stove.) Saute pancetta until crispy and golden, about 4-5 minutes. Remove from heat. Using a slotted spoon remove pancetta from pan and drain on paper towels. Reserve about 2 tablespoons of the pan drippings in a small prep bowl.
- Heat one tablespoon of drippings in the same skillet and saute mushrooms on medium heat for 3-4 minutes, until they give up some of their liquid and are nicely browned. Remove mushrooms and set aside in a small bowl.
- Heat the remaining tablespoon of drippings in the skillet over medium low to medium heat and add leeks, fennel and shallots. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook until mixture is wilted and becomes translucent. If the vegetables are beginning to brown, move the skillet from the stove top and adjust your heat down before continuing to cook.
- In a small bowl stir together cream, half and half and eggs to combine. Add remaining ½ teaspoon salt, pepper and nutmeg, stir to combine.
- Transfer the fennel mixture to the bowl of your food processor or Vitamix. Add the goat cheese and cream mixture. Process until smooth. Add raw spinach a few handfuls at a time processing until well blended and the mixture is a vibrant green color.
- Sprinkle pancetta and mushrooms on the bottom of the crust. Pour spinach mixture over the top. Bake in the center rack of your oven for about an hour or until the center of the quiche is just slightly jiggly. Remove from the oven and allow to cool a few minutes before serving.
- Special Equipment: You will need a food processor or Vitamix for this recipe in order to blend the spinach into the custard mixture. Because the spinach is added to the custard as the last step, I doubt a regular blender will have enough power to thoroughly incorporate the spinach into the custard. However, if you don't have this equipment, you can finely chop the spinach and stir it into the custard. It won't have the same vibrant green hue, but will taste just as good.