Garden Greens Quiche

Here’s the quiche mentioned in Patrick’s “Spring Plantings” post. It was divine. It is a riff off of my mother Mary’s famous spinach quiche. She would make it for the brunches we held every Christmas while I was growing up, and it remains one of my favorite foods. The girls have been laying so well that yesterday I was running through my mental list of egg-intensive recipes. I had just bought a big chunk of Jarlsberg swiss (my favorite swiss for sandwiches, omelettes, quiche, cr?ɬ™pes . . . everything, it’s got a mild, nutty flavor) because I have been contemplating making ham and cheese cr?ɬ™pes (again, ?ɬ† la Mary), and, as Patrick noted, we’ve been getting great greens from the garden, thanks to the longer days, and the deep roots they’ve developed over the winter. We went to Berkeley Bowl this week, and so we also had good dairy, so suddenly, quiche was on the menu. I love it when we have a well stocked larder, and produce from our wee homestead to work with!

I inadvertently modified the crust (grabbed the wrong bag of flour!) to great effect, so I will give that version below, but the regular version changes only in using whole wheat flour for the portion that is buckwheat. The greens mixture was determined by the garden, and was about equal parts chard, mustard (both green and purple wave), and kale, with some broccoli rabe thrown in for good measure.

My mom always made this quiche with spinach — mixed greens of this sort are really something I discovered with Patrick, after I moved to Seattle. I am grateful to have access to such lovely fresh ones, and to truly enjoy them, as they contain many of the vitamins, minerals, etc., that people are always taking supplements to get enough of, including folic acid, which is the latest must-have for pregnant women.

On to the the recipe.

Crust Ingredients

1c white flour
1/4 c buckwheat flour
1/4 tsp salt
5 1/2 tbsp butter, cold, cut into small pieces
3 tbsp cold water

Extra flour for dusting your work surface

A pie pan, or quiche pan. I use a glass 9″ pan with higher sides.
Prep notes: You need to make the dough ahead of time — a day or a few hours, but it needs time in the fridge to chill before rolling out. You need a very clean surface for rolling out the dough. When I deal with pastry or bread, I have a counter that I clear, and then scald with boiling water.
Making the Dough
Combine flour and salt in a medium bowl, and add the butter pieces. With your fingers, gently blend the flour and the butter, in a motion called frissage, where the pad of your thumb rubs across the pads of your fingers, fairly firmly. This takes a few minutes — less time the more you’ve done it. The goal is to distribute the butter into the flour and relatively evenly. You do not end up with a dough, but rather a sort of flaky, thickened flour*. With all these sorts of processes you never want to do it for longer than necessary, since it tends to toughen up your result.

Once blended, add the cold water all at once, and mix into a loose, lumpy dough with a fork. Turn this out onto your floured work surface, and gather it together into a cohesive ball with your hands. Then push the dough away from you with the palm of your hand, working the butter thoroughly into the flour. You will need to do this a couple times. Form the dough into a ball, and wrap it in plastic wrap** and place in the fridge to chill for a couple-few hours.

Rolling Out the Crust
Preheat oven to 375°

Lightly flour your surface and place your chilled dough in the center. Take a rolling pin and gently pound the ball a couple times in different directions to wake it up and soften it a bit. Then start rolling it into a circle, turning it frequently, and flipping it over, to keep it from sticking. Have your pan available so you can eyeball the size. When it is just bigger in circumference than the pan, place it in the pan, and pinch the overhang into a nice crust edge, pulling off any edges that are just too big. These can be used to fill in, in those cases where your circle was less circular than you’d hoped!

Then take aluminum foil and shape it tightly to the inside of the crust you’ve just created. This is to keep the dough from drooping down while you pre-bake it, as the high butter content makes for some fluid moments while the dough heats. Place it in the oven for 12 minutes, then take out the tin foil, and poke a bunch of holes in the bottom of the crust, and popping any bubbles that have already started, and put it back in, uncovered, for about 5 more minutes. Take out and allow to cool. Keep the tinfoil — you can use it to cover the leftovers and when you reheat.

The Filling
Preheat oven to 375°. Place a cookie tray on the shelf below the one you’ll bake the quiche on — they can bubble over.

10–12 oz mixed leafy greens (chard, kale, mustard, broccoli rabe, collards, spinach), stemmed, rinsed thoroughly (3 rinses, including one salted), and torn into pieces
1 leek, (or a bunch of green onions) quartered lengthwise and sliced thinly crosswise. Rinse after chopping.
1 tbsp butter
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/8 tsp nutmeg

1c heavy (whipping)
1/3 c whole milk
3 eggs

12 oz Jarlsberg Swiss, grated

Reduce the greens by putting in a large stock or pasta pot on medium heat still wet with their rinse water. Stir occassionally as the greens wilt. Keep steaming for 5 minutes or so once they’ve reduced, especially if you’re using firmer greens like kale, chard, and collards. Drain in a colander, pressing as much water out as you can, using the back of a spoon. Chop the resulting mass roughly. A couple passes in each direction is generally sufficient, they don’t need to be minced.

In a saute pan, melt the butter and saute the leeks over moderate heat until they start to turn golden. Add the greens and the spice mixture, and saute to dry out the greens a bit more. You’re not trying to dry them out completely, you just don’t need a lot of extra water in your quiche — think moist.

Beat the eggs and dairy briskly with a whisk, and then quickly add the greens mixture and blend well.

Take your crust, and distribute 1/4–1/3 c of the grated cheese on the bottom of the crust. Pour the filling in carefully, and then layer the balance of the cheese over the top, to cover completely. Carefully place in the preheated oven for 50 minutes. Test for doneness with a knife — it should come out clean.

The quiche needs to set up for about 15 minutes after coming out of the oven, before you serve. It often feels impossible to wait, especially if you — like us — get started late and are absolutely salivating by the time it comes out. Do it anyway — the time to set allows it to really come together and gain coherence. This is really really good the next day, and freezes well. This quality makes it a great party dish, since you can make a couple ahead of time and just heat the day of. You do need to bake them before freezing!

To reheat leftovers from the fridge, cover in foil, or wrap individual pieces, and place in a 350° oven. It’ll need 30–45 minutes to get warm through. If you’ve frozen it, refrigerate for a day before you try and reheat — it’ll take your whole life to reheat otherwise. From the fridge, cover the quiche with foil and heat for an hour in a preheated 375° oven.

*The buckwheat flour adds a lovely slightly sweet aroma, and produces a softer dough, that is easier to work than when you use whole wheat. If you do go with whole wheat, keep in mind that it will be a much stiffer dough, and you will need to be more patient when working with it at all stages.

**Haven’t found a better, less wasteful substitute for plastic wrap for this situation, where you don’t want the dough to get dry on the outer surface. If anyone has suggestions, I welcome them. I don’t often have need for plastic wrap anymore, and answering this need might just put it out of our life.

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2 Responses to Garden Greens Quiche

  1. mary mcguire says:

    Now I’m going to have to get some buckwheat. when you are pre baking your crust, 12 minutes in a pre heated oven is sufficient; the extra five minutes will bake it completely. You would only bake it completely if you were going to use it for something like lemon meringue or chocolate pie. Do you have any words of caution for any greems that should be a smaller proportion of the whole? To chill the dough, waxed paper works fine.
    bye for now to your garden kitchen.

  2. Patrick says:

    ziploc bags also work for chilling dough (and they’re reusable)

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