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Creative Quiche-ery

Definitions by Gail…

Quiche:  1. creative combination of eggs, vegetables, breakfast meat (optional), cheese (optional) in a crust (also optional) 2. easy make-ahead breakfast 3. sneaky way to get an extra veg serving into one’s daily diet

Now that eggs have lost their bad rap as cholesterol bombs, introduce them to your vegetables and invite them to your table regularly! Quiche is a great way for them to get to know each other :) I have no rules where quiche is concerned, and most times I dispense with a crust which makes the assembly (and clean-up!) that much easier PLUS it makes the whole dish that much healthier.

When I start noticing bits of various cheeses hanging about, leftover and ignored, or am craving something different from my usual go-to breakfasts, or am on a vegetable kick, it is time to make quiche.  This time I was inspired by STILL having leftover spinach from my 2.5 gallon bag  and spending time with my Muffin Tin Cookbook.

My son and I spent a couple hours together on Sunday putting together 3 quiches, 12 jumbo-muffin individual quiches (all for the freezer,) and a frittata for dinner. We got creative with mix & match veggies and cheeses!

We chopped mounds of vegetables, shredded cheese, sauteed leeks and onions, buttered pans, beat eggs, and then layered-layered-layered. And then we washed a whole bunch of really big dishes.

The vegetables I am talking about are: 2 large leeks, 1.5 large onions,  4+ cups chopped fresh spinach, 3-ish cups chopped bell peppers (red, green, yellow — frozen, not thawed), 1-15 oz can artichoke hearts quartered, 6 Roma tomatoes chopped (3-ish cups), and the last bits of some chives and arugula … I think that’s all.

The cheeses I used are: Monterey Jack, Manchego, Harry and David (not-really-) sharp white cheddar, and Lake Country sharp white cheddar. All totaled probably 1 to 1.25 lbs. I used crumbled Feta and a handful or two from the Kraft Italian Cheese Blend bags as the whim struck.

Eggs were prepared like this: Beat 2 dozen large or extra-large eggs (6 c.) until smooth;  beat in 2 Tbsp salt. Add 12 oz can evaporated milk and enough milk to equal 9 c. total. More or less on the total, but the proportion (2 parts eggs, 1 part milk) works well. I use skim milk and low-fat evaporated. This amount was sufficient for all the quiches (but not our dinner frittata.)

Don’t balk at the salt! It is flavoring 2 dozen eggs and a couple pounds of veggies. It’s OK! Even with the cheese, these are NOT salty and I’m very salt sensitive. You may actually prefer more.

When Robert and I got started assembling these creative quiches, we made 3 muffin-size each with our fave choices of vegetables and cheese. That filled one jumbo muffin pan and also used up some leftover fresh chives and arugula. The other panful are onion/leek, spinach, feta, tomato plus 1/4 of an artichoke heart on top.  (see tip below)

KEY TIP: sparingly sprinkle sifted flour over each layer of vegetables to help absorb the liquids they give off as they cook, or mix it into the vegetables themselves. Why? This allows you to use milk instead of cream, and not to have to cook down all the veggies first.

For the muffin cups, I use a 3″ wire strainer, and we’re talking mmm, maybe 1/8 tsp. per muffin cup. We did precook the leek (slow saute in butter + olive oil) and the onion (added to the leeks after 10 min, until just turning translucent.)

After we made the individuals, I combined all the different cheeses I had shredded into one bowl, and all the remaining vegetables into another.  I tossed in about 1 Tbsp flour to the approximately 4 c. cheese to keep it from sticking to itself, and I tossed in 3 Tbsp flour (that’s a guess) with the remaining veg — it made a thin gluey/pasty coating without any lumps/clumps of flour.

(We had leftover cheese, by the way. Now what?)

Although I own a quiche plate I don’t usually use it for quiche. I like to make mine deeeeep so I usually use a 10″ deep-dish Pyrex pie plate. I saw this over on The Pioneer Woman blog, and now I want a pan like that. A lot.

We filled 2 shallow 8″ pie pans and 1-10″ deep dish Pyrex.

  • The deep quiche has veggie mix – cheese blend – artichoke hearts – feta sprinkled with Mediterranean oregano and fresh ground pepper.
  • One shallow pan is veggie mix – cheese blend – zucchini sprinkled with pepper and Mrs. Dash table blend. Also, the first cup of egg mixture I poured over the zucchini had 2 tsp brown mustard mixed in (inspired by this recipe, which we like a lot.)
  • The other shallow pan has just veggie mix and lots of cheese on top. It browned up well. Too well to be pretty, but not enough to spoil the taste :)

To back up a bit, you fill the pans 3/4 full of veggies and cheese, then drizzle egg mixture over it, slowly, until it does NOT quite cover the top of the fillings. The veggies cook down, the cheese melts, and you end up with less volume than you started with. But they puff a lot as they are baking so you have to leave room.

And to back up even further, Robert prepared the pans by buttering them with a silicone brush, having the butter softened to the consistency of pudding. Then we sprinkled fine bread crumbs (Progresso) into the muffin cups, and Panko into the pans. BUT! …

… what works so well when we are serving them fresh from the oven as individual slices didn’t work so well for removing a whole, chilled, crustless quiche from the pan! Next time for freezing, I will take the time to cut parchment and butter it down to the pan, butter it again on top, and do the bread crumbs… or just make a crust. *sigh*

Bake them, cool them, chill them, slice them, freeze them, package them. You can bake at 350, 375,  or 400. It can take anywhere from 20 minutes to 1 hr + 15 minutes to get done. (Check recipes for the size you are making for best baking suggestions; I am not making a chart here, sorry.) Test by inserting a dry metal knife into the egg near the center. It should come out with little or no milky-looking liquid.

Thicker, bigger quiches will continue to set in the center after removing from oven.  If edges are getting done before the middle, reduce temp 25 degrees, lay a piece of foil over the top, and bake a few extra minutes. Hmmm, yeah… Like I should have on the zucchini and the cheesy-topped pans — they took me by surprise; I didn’t factor in how shallow they were.

Veggie Tip:  Save all the not-spoiled scraps, then brew up a nice batch of flavorful vegetable stock! Even onion skins, cores… it all adds good complexity and lots of healthfulness!

Quiche-on-the-go Tip: heat a slice of crustless quiche and put it in a tortilla with salsa, or between two slices of toast for a handheld breakfast!

They may not have come out of their pans nicely for me, but these mix & match creative quiches taste really good!


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