Real (Wo)men Bake Quiche

My quiche recipe has evolved over the years. I can’t even attribute it to any one source any more because it’s now a combination of various aspects of various recipes and some of my own ideas. Admittedly, there is work involved, but even though this is a meatless dish, it’s hearty and can easily be served as a main course of a light meal, naturally accompanied by a large, fresh green salad.

This particular recipe for an antipasti quiche came about after I bought an antipasti quiche a few years ago and in spite of its attractive appearance, it tasted dreadful. So I sprung into action and created my own. The advantages of this recipe is that it doesn’t require cream, so it’s not very heavy and it freezes really well, so you can make it in advance and reheat it before serving.

While the filling for this version is antipasti, I also make the same quiche using other fillings – peppers, onions or both. You can have fun and experiment with any fillings you like. Also, you can play with the vegetables you use in the antipasti – exclude veggies you don’t like, add what you do like. Just make sure they’re all cooked before you bake the quiche.

ANTIPASTI QUICHE

Ingredients

Filling*

2 tablespoons olive oil

Antipasti vegetables

2 red peppers cut into quarters (I slice the cheeks off the core of the pepper to avoid using the white bits)

1 medium-sized sweet potato peeled and sliced into 2 cm (½ inch slices)

1 very small eggplant or 3-4 mini-eggplants peeled and sliced into 2 cm (½ inch slices)

1 red onion peeled and cut into 8 segments (cut the onion in half then with the round side down, slice from the middle outwards at an angle so you get 4 crescents from each half)

3 small zucchinis halved

3-4 large mushrooms washed and stemmed (leave whole to roast)

1 whole head of garlic (remove the loose papery skins on the outside by hand but leave the inner layers on)

Salt

Crust

1½ cups flour

¾ cup butter cut into pieces

¼ teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons cold water

½ cup grated cheddar or any other hard cheese (for after the crust has baked)

Custard

4 eggs

1½ cups milk

3 tablespoons flour

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon dried basil

¼ teaspoon dried oregano

How to do it

Antipasti

1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C (350°F)

Roasted antipasti

2. On an oven tray lined with baking paper, sprinkle the olive oil and place all the cut vegetables in an even layer, turning them through the olive oil so their tops are lightly oiled. Make sure the peppers are skin side down. Sprinkle lightly with salt.

3. Place in the upper part of the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Then, using tongs, turn over all the vegetables except for the onions. Bake for another 20-25 minutes, or until the pepper skins start blackening.

4. Remove from the oven and place the peppers in a small plastic bag and seal. Leave the peppers for about 15 minutes while the rest of the veggies cool. Then remove the pepper skins – they should slide off easily.

5. Slice the roasted mushrooms, zucchini, peppers and eggplant (if using mini-eggplant, you don’t have to cut them further). Separate the layers of the onion, removing any dry outside layers. Squeeze out the roasted garlic from each clove (it comes out like toothpaste). Set all aside.

Pre-baked Crust

1. Sift together the flour and the salt.

Combine butter into the flour to get coarse crumbs

2. Using a pastry blender (worth buying if you regularly make crusts) or two knives, cut the butter into the flour until you have a mixture that looks like coarse crumbs.  Add enough of the water to make the dough stick together, using your hands to create a ball.

3. Generally, it’s recommended to wrap in plastic and chill the dough for 30 minutes. I usually don’t and rather immediately press the dough into a pie pan using my hands. I first pat the dough out to form a circle then I work the dough over the bottom of a 9 inch ungreased pie pan, trying to keep the dough even, and working it as far up the sides as possible. When using a pie pan, you can them crimp the dough, using a knife handle or your finger to make a fluted pattern. Or you can just use a sharp knife and cut the top to even it out. Prick the surface of the dough with a fork.

Trim uneven edges with a sharp knife

4. Place in the freezer for at least 30 minutes. This is a great tip to prevent the dough from shrinking down too much when you pre-bake it.

5. Pre-heat your oven to 200°C (400°F). Line the dough with baking paper that come up the sides and place either baking weights or dry beans on the paper. This prevents the dough from rising as it bakes. Bake for 15 minutes. Then remove the paper and weights and bake for another 5 minutes. As soon as it come out of the oven, sprinkle the cheese evenly over the bottom of the crust and allow to melt.

Custard and assembly

1. Pre-heat the oven to 190°C (375°F)

2. Beat together well all the custard ingredients.

3. Arrange the antipasti vegetables in the pre-baked crust evenly. I keep the sweet potato and the red peppers for the top as they have the most color.

Pour custard into the dish when it's already in the oven to prevent spilling

4. Place on your oven rack and carefully pour the custard mixture into the dish, making sure you only fill to the top of the crust, no further, so it doesn’t overflow into the dish (if it does, it’s not the end of the world). You may not have to use all the custard mixture, depending on how many vegetables are in the crust.

5. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and the filing is solid.

You can freeze this and reheat covered with foil for about 20 minutes in a medium oven.

Antipasti Quiche

*Alternative fillings (For these fillings, omit the basil and oregano from the custard mixture and instead add ¼ teaspoon mustard powder or ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard)

  • Onion filling: Peel and slice 3 large onions and saute in olive oil until they are golden brown. Add 3 cloves of crushed garlic and saute for another 1 minute while stirring the garlic around. Add salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  • Leek and Onion filling: Use one large leek with the outer layer removed, wash and slice into think slices, and saute with one large onion in olive oil until all soft. Add 3 cloves of crushed garlic and saute for another 1 minute while stirring the garlic around. Add salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  • Pepper filling: Slice 3-4 peppers (any combination of red, yellow and orange) and saute in olive oil until they are soft. Add 3 cloves of crushed garlic and saute for another 1 minute while stirring the garlic around. Add salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  • Mushroom filling: Saute one medium-sized onion in olive oil until soft. Add 250g (¼ lb) fresh, washed and sliced mushrooms and saute until soft. Add salt, pepper and a sprinkle of dried thyme.
  • You can also use any salty cheese or goats cheese  – about ½ cup in any of these fillings will give it extra flavor.
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