PERFECT VEGETARIAN QUICHE

Quiche is quite possibly the perfect dish. I couldn't love eggs more and eggs in quiche form is the best in my opinion. When it's tall, silky, and custardy and you have a crust that is buttery and flaky, you could serve it for a midnight snack, brunch, or a perfect dinner with a nice green salad and have a balanced meal. Until recently my go-to quiche recipe came from an early Jamie Oliver episode of Oliver's Twist. It was his Tigers Quiche, a 3 cheese quiche in a tart pan with cheddar, gruyere and dots of goat cheese with torn strips of prosciutto and a thyme oil to spoon on the top before tossing it in the oven. I wasn't satisfied though. It had to be a few inches higher and I wanted it smokier and meatier but without adding meat (since I no longer eat as much as I used to) and I wanted to keep the quiche nice and light, like quiches should be. I like to cut my crust with a blend of spelt and regular flour as I think a little nuttiness from the spelt adds a more interesting taste and texture. Here, I add oyster mushrooms, spinach, shallots, chive oil, gruyere and smoked cheddar, as I think they each add something hearty and satisfying without overpowering the custard and crust. Feel free to omit or change any of the vegetable ingredients. When I serve this to my guests, they always guess there is a smoky bacon in it, but nope - this is a clean eatin' quiche that taste incredibly indulgent. 

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INGREDIENTS

Spelt Crust: 

1  3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup spelt flour

1/4 cup ice water

2 sticks chilled unsalted butter

1 1/4 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon sugar

Filling:

8 large eggs

1 lb oyster mushrooms, caps quartered and stems chopped

3 bunches flat leaf spinach, roughly chopped

1 large handful each of shredded gruyere and smoked cheddar cheese

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 tablespoon butter

2 shallots, minced

3 cups half and half

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

4 tablespoons chive oil (mix 4 tbs of olive oil with a handful of chives in a blender or pestle & mortar) 

sea salt and fresh ground black pepper

METHOD

For crust:

1. Set oven to 375 degrees fahrenheit. In a food processor, combine the flours, butter, salt, and sugar. Pulse for 5-10 seconds to combine. Pour in 1/4 cup ice water and pulse another 5 seconds or until mixture starts to come together. Empty the mix onto a surface and bring together to form a disk. I like to dip my hands in the ice water when bringing the dough together. If it's too crumbly, just add a little more ice water. Cover the disk in plastic wrap and set in freezer for 20 minutes or make ahead and keep in the fridge for up to a week. 

2. Place the disk of dough on a lightly floured piece of wax paper. Roll from the center outward into a 14 inch round. You want about 1/8 inch thickness or less. Carefully lift the dough from the wax paper, roll it up, and transfer and unroll the dough onto a deep 9 inch pie pan (or use any pan you have on hand, as you'll see below). Gently press and fit the dough, trimming the sides to overhang 1 inch and fold under to form a rim. Crimp the edge with fingertips. 

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3. Bake the pie blind in the oven for 12 minutes and remove. 

For Filling:

1. Lower oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit. In a large skillet over high heat, add the vegetable oil, mushrooms and salt and pepper and cook over high heat, stirring until they start to soften, about 5 minutes. Transfer mushrooms to a plate. In the same skillet over medium heat, add butter and shallots and cook for 3 minutes or until soft. Add spinach and season with salt and pepper until wilted, 2 -3 minutes. Once cool, place spinach in a dish towel or paper towel and squeeze out as much moisture as possible and add spinach to the plate of mushrooms. 

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2. Scatter 1/4 of the cheese and 1/2 of the mushroom-spinach mix into the bottom of the pastry shell. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, half and half, nutmeg, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper until frothy. Pour the egg mixture into the pie crust. Top with the remainder of the cheese and mushroom-spinach mix. Drizzle the top with your chive oil. Bake the quiche for about 1 & 1/2 hours or until the custard is barely set in the center and the top has a nice rich browned color. 

3. Let the quiche stand until very warm and cut into wedges and serve. Tuck in and enjoy!