It’s time for pie baking but, as we’re entering colder days and longer nights, I’m craving nutritious baked goods like an open-faced pastry pie with nutrient-dense superfoods. So, instead of sweet desserts, let me introduce you to a hot-and-hearty Spinach and Tomato Quiche that both genders on the South Shore will love.
As a kid, when my mom returned from Europe she morphed into an experimental chef of sorts. I was a down-to-earth picky eater — not much different than now — and would protest any of her spinach dishes. She had this Pat Special concoction of hamburger, egg and spinach. I couldn’t go there. Then, she’d try and smuggle spinach into lasagna. I always detected the green stuff. I ended up munching on peanut butter sandwiches.
Fast forward to my days and years, living and eating at Lake Tahoe. Sure, I can get my fix of quiche at different places but the deal is — I’m still like Meg Ryan’s Sally character in “When Harry Met Sally”… I’m high maintenance, especially when it comes to food, and prefer my quiche to be prepared the way I want it. I recall ordering a slice at a nameless spot in town. I sniffed it. I stared at it. I touched it. And then, when I took the first bite it hit me. My quiche was not my fantasy. I tasted bits of mushrooms and/or mystery meat. It brought me back to a blast from the past. “No way am I eating this thing!” I said. I wasn’t a happy camper. I tossed it. I drank bottled water for days. Just kidding.
So quiche, a rich but good-for-you custard pie infused with cheese and vegetables offers choices: eat it any time of day, hot or cold. It may have French roots but it’s also a favorite here in America. I give this quiche a Mediterranean spin. My mother would be proud. And yes, I’ve finally acquired a taste for fresh spinach.
Spinach and Tomato Quiche
1 (9-inch) store-bought refrigerated pie crust
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon European style butter
2 tablespoons garlic olive oil
1 teaspoon Herbes De Provence (a blend of basil, fennel seed, marjoram, rosemary, sage, thyme and lavender)
1/4 cup red onion, diced
1 1/4 cup organic fresh baby spinach, thinly sliced (save 1/2 cup for topping)
1 1/4 cups mix of green and red bell pepper, zucchini, chopped
1 cup low-fat mozzarella, shredded
2 slices mozzarella, chopped
4 organic brown eggs, beaten
1 cup organic half-and-half
12 cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
In a skillet, melt garlic olive oil and butter. Stir-fry onion and vegetables add herbs. Set aside. In a mixing bowl, beat eggs, add half-and-half. Brush olive oil on uncooked pie crust. Top with half of veggie mixture. Sprinkle with half of cheese. Repeat. Pour milk-egg mixture on top. Spread spinach; place tomato halves on top. Bake at 400 degrees for about 45 minutes or till golden brown and firm. Makes 8-10 servings.
The spinach, tomatoes, herbs, and different olive oils make this egg dish flavorful and fine. I served it in a white tart dish which made it even prettier. The rich hues of yellow, gold, green and red are reminders that autumn is in full bloom at Tahoe. This dish works cold for breakfast, warmed up for brunch with orange juice and coffee, or for dinner served with a tossed green salad. It’s versatile and will make you and yours smile — not run for the peanut butter. It’s the time of the season for savory foods like this egg dish. So, turn up the heat or stoke the fire and cuddle up. Enjoy! And yes, I know for fact real men eat quiche!
Motto: If you know what you like and how you like it, there is nothing wrong with speaking out or doing it yourself. This way, you get what you want.
— Cal Orey, M.A. is an author and journalist. Her books include “The Healing Powers” series (Vinegar, Olive Oil, Chocolate, Honey, and Coffee) published by Kensington. (The Healing Coffee is offered by the Good Cook Book Club.) The Healing Powers series are sold at Walmart stores nationwide. Her website is www.calorey.com.