a very versatile asparagus quiche recipe

When it comes to asparagus, you’ve just got to seize the season and eat as much as you can before they’re gone again. At least, that’s my philosophy.

 

how to make asparagus quiche (or any other quiche, for that matter)

There are many ways to make a quiche crust (and, of course, you could always just buy one ready-made), but the method I return to most often is a riff off Julia Child’s tried and true recipe from Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Depending on whether you’re pressed for time or have some to spare, I propose two different techniques for baking the dough. Then I’ll give you a great base quiche recipe that you can use with asparagus — or nearly any other ingredient you have on hand.

 

making the pâte brisée

yields enough dough for 1 quiche

INGREDIENTS

(the lower range of weights is for a 20-23cm/8-9in diameter pie dish, while the upper range is for a 25-28cm/10-11in dish)

• 140 to 185g all-purpose flour (up to 30% of the weight can be from a whole grain flour, though note that these often absorb more water)
• 1 tsp salt
• 80 to 105g butter
• 25 to 33g lard, duck fat, vegetable shortening (or olive oil in a pinch)*
• 50-62g to 67-82g ice water

*: you can also go for an all-butter crust, in which case just swap out these fats for more butter


METHOD

1. In a large bowl, combine the flour(s) and salt. Cut the butter into large cubes, and add it and your other fat to the bowl. Working quickly, rub the fats into the flour using your fingertips, breaking the fat into smaller pieces as you go.
2. Once the pieces of butter are a bit larger than old-fashioned rolled oats, use a cupped hand to stir the mixture as you add in the water. Start with the lower amount of water, adding one tablespoon at a time on dry spots if necessary. Once the dough has gathered into a shaggy mass, press it together into a rough ball.
3. Transfer your dough to a lightly floured surface. Then, using the heel of your hand (not your warm palms!), quickly and firmly press down and smear a small portion of the dough away from you and onto the countertop. Continue until all the dough has been smeared, then gather the dough again into a mass using a bench scraper or spatula. This is called fraisage and it helps distribute the fat through the pastry even better than rubbing it into flour alone.

At this point, you have two options:
a) Briefly knead your dough into a fairly smooth ball, wrap it up, and let it chill for 45-60 minutes in the freezer, or 2-24 hours in the fridge. If you want to use your dough much later, you can keep it in the fridge for up to four days or store it in the freezer for a few months; or b) skip the long chill and roll out the pastry immediately (steps 4 & 5).

4. On a lightly floured surface, beat the dough out into a disk using your lightly floured rolling pin. This’ll make it easier to roll out, and helps soften the dough if it’s a bit hard coming straight out of the fridge or freezer. Always rolling away from you and starting in the centre of the dough, roll the dough out into a circle until it’s big enough to have a ~5cm overhang around the edge of your chosen pie dish, lifting and turning it as you go.
5. Butter your pie dish and unfold your dough out over it. Press the dough down into the dish so as to ensure it’s tucked in neatly. Fold the excess dough down and tuck it into the dish so that the tucked parts are on the outside of the pastry walls, not the inside, reinforcing them as you go.
6. If following option b), chill the shaped dough now while you prepare the filling (freeze for 15 minutes or refrigerate for 30). If following option a), push the edges of the dough into the sides of the pan such that the pastry sticks up 1cm above the pan. Prick the bottom with a fork, line the dough with parchment paper or buttered foil, and fill with dried beans, rice or white sugar to act as a weight. Pre-bake the shell at 200°C for 8 to 9 minutes, remove the weights and foil, prick the bottom again and continue baking 2 or 3 minutes more. When it starts shrinking and getting some colour, remove the shell from the oven.

note: you want the dough and all its ingredients to be as cold as possible. otherwise, the butter will melt before the moisture inside it can evaporate and form fluffy air pockets as the dough bakes, leaving your pastry dense and crisp rather than light and flaky. tips for keeping the dough cold include: placing your bowl and all your ingredients briefly in the freezer before making the dough – rinsing your hands in very cold water to cool them before manually handling the dough – returning the dough to the fridge or freezer to firm any time it begins to warm too much.

 

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leek & green onion quiche with a simple side salad

making the filling + baking the quiche

yields enough filling for 1 quiche

INGREDIENTS

(the lower range of weights is for a 20-23cm/8-9in diameter pie dish, while the upper range is for a 25-28cm/10-11in dish)

• 200 to 250g of your cooked star ingredient(s)*
• 3 to 4 eggs
• 350 to 470mL (1½ to 2 cups) milk or cream (I’ve used oat and soy milk to great success)
• 56 to 112g (1½ to 2 cups) freshly grated cheese – e.g. Comté, Emmental, Gruyère, Jarlsberg and/or another type of Emmentaler or Swiss cheese
• 1 generous pinch of spice – e.g. nutmeg, smoked paprika, herbes de Provence — whatever seems appropriate
• 40 to 60g (2 to 3 Tbsp) butter, cut into little pea-sized pieces
• 1 tsp salt
• 1/2 tsp pepper
• optional: up to 1/2 cup water or vegetable broth to cook your star ingredient(s) in, and 1 shallot or 1/2 onion to cook your star ingredient(s) with

*we’re simply using grilled asparagus here to make an asparagus quiche, but I mention lots of other exciting filling options below

 

METHOD

1. Set a rack in the middle of your oven and preheat to 190°C/375°F. Cook your star ingredients in a way that would make them delicious on their own, making sure not to overcook any green vegetable you may want to include. You still want things to be vibrant and fresh once you take your quiche out of the oven! Here, I grilled asparagus — cut into thumb-length pieces, lightly tossed in olive oil and salt, and cooked on high heat until tender (about 2-3 minutes).
2. Crack your eggs into a bowl, seasoning each yolk with a small pinch of salt. Let the salt sit on the eggs for about five minutes, then whisk them thoroughly. Add in your milk and/or cream, spices, salt, pepper, half the butter and half the cheese (if using).
3. You have the option here to either: a) put your star ingredients directly onto the crust then pour the egg mixture over top, b) stir your slightly-cooled star ingredients into the egg mixture then pour the lot into the pastry shell, or c) pour the egg mixture into the prepared crust and then add in your star ingredients. For asparagus, I like doing a mix of a) and c), adding the stalks in first and reserving the tips of the spears for last, so they have a chance to get even more colour in the oven. If making a Quiche Lorraine, option a) is classic. For something like a sautéed leek or caramelized onion quiche, I personally prefer option b) (because I don’t want the star ingredients to crisp up in the oven).
4. Top the quiche with the rest of the grated cheese and butter pieces. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the top of the quiche is browned and puffy.
5. Enjoy warm or cold! Cold quiche is very portable, making it perfect for picnics in the sun.

 

☆ suggested star ingredients ☆

So you want to make quiche, but not an asparagus quiche? No worries! Here are a few proven combos that’ll work great every time:

sautéed leek & green onion
• fresh spinach & goat cheese
• steamed pea & carrot
• roasted zucchini, feta & bell pepper
• anchovy, garlic & olive
• artichoke hearts & blue cheese
• seared mushroom, garlic & broccoli
• roasted tomato & basil pesto
• caramelized onion & parmesan

If you feel like adding meat or fish, lardons (or bacon in a pinch) and salmon are great go-tos. Conversely, you can skip the cheese(s) entirely and still have a great quiche — especially if opting for a Quiche Lorraine. Lastly, a green salad — think mesclun, frisée or a simple cos — dressed in oil, vinegar, salt and pepper goes well with any and every quiche!

 

Click here to watch me whip up a leek & green onion quiche!

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