Thursday, June 26, 2008

Spinach Quiche with Oat & Corn Crust

I made a delicious quiche last weekend, and just finished up the last piece for breakfast this morning. There are two secrets to indulging in quiche (if you are among that portion of the population that considers quiche a desireable indulgence) without throwing all dietary caution out the window:
1) Find an alternative to traditional high-fat pie crust
2) Go easy on the cream and cheese

My interest in finding something new to eat for breakfast led to finally trying out my Dad's almost-famous, low-fat, high-fiber pie crust. Here's what he had to say about it when he emailed me the recipe:

"This different approach to pie crust was inspired by the very gluey consistency of cold oatmeal. However, cold oatmeal is much too gluey to do anything with. Cold cooked corn meal is at the opposite end of the friable-gluey spectrum and can be combined with the oatmeal to adjust final consistency and come up with something that might be rolled out into a pie crust. A small amount of oil helps to keep the cold dough from sticking to the wax paper and changes the final consistency from armor plate to chewy crunchy.

The resulting crust should be crunchy with adequate strength for serving but not bullet proof. Do not expect the bland flaky made with lard pie crust your grandmother used to make. The corn flavor comes through nicely and is especially good with squash/pumpkin pies and quiches.

This recipe, published years ago in Prevention magazine, is my sole contribution to gourmet literature. It has stood the test of time."
-- Lloyd Roberts, M.D.

Dr. Roberts' Healthy Pie Crust
(makes two crusts; best for one-crust recipes like quiche or pumpkin pie)

1 cup rolled oats

1 cup yellow cornmeal
1-1/4 cups water
1/4 cup vegetable oil (I used "lite" olive oil)
"pinch" salt (I used 1/2 tsp)

Dad's instructions say to cook this all up in a double boiler for 15-20 minutes, stirring ocassionally, but I don't have a double boiler so I just brought it to a simmer in a small, heavy, non-stick saucepan then reduced the heat to as low as it would go for a while, until the mix was very thick and all water thoroughly absorbed.

Cool to room temp, and divide into two pieces. Shape each into a disk and wrap in plastic. Chill for at least an hour. (One piece can go straight into the freezer if you aren't going to use it right away).

Roll out between two piece of waxed paper. It will be sticky, but rollable. Don't worry too much about tears or cracks, if you get them: you'll probably do some repairs when you transfer to the pie plate anyway.

Peel off the top piece of paper, and flip the dough into a buttered 9"-9.5" deep-dish pie plate (I used a 9.5" Pyrex). Expect some damage in transit. Press into place and trim off the extra around the edge. Use those bits to repair any cracks or holes. This crust is not gorgeous, but it's very forgiving.

No need to prebake, but you can if you want to. I put mine in for about 5 minutes while the oven was getting up to temp, enough to firm it up a little without starting to brown.

I wouldn't recommend this crust for any kind of pie, but it goes very well with:

Quiche trick number two I learned from Mom. My version keeps a little of the traditional cream, but replaces most with plain yogurt. I think whole milk yogurt works best. If you're more fat-phobic than I am you can use low-fat instead, but expect it may not keep as well in the fridge without leaking water.

Quiche is an egg custard: basically, a mix of eggs and cream baked until solid. The number of eggs and whether to use heavy or whipping cream, or half and half, or yogurt vary quite a bit from recipe to recipe, along with how much of the liquid of your choice. This is a good clue that the proportions are pretty forgiving and you can probably get away with whatever you've got on hand.

My basic recipe is:
4 large organic eggs

1 cup plain whole milk yogurt (Nancy's Organic is my favorite)
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup whole milk
salt and pepper to taste
dash ground nutmeg

Whizz this all up in a food processor, or beat with eggbeater, 'til well blended.

For a quiche, you will need:
1 9"-9.5 inch pie shell
1 TBSP dijon mustard
1/2 cup or more of shredded cheese (gruyere is good, but chedder or jack works fine, too)
1-2 cups total of whatever else you're adding: cooked shrimp, diced veggies, ham, crumbled bacon, leftover cooked chicken, whatever you feel like putting in.

For this spinach version, I used:
5 oz mixed dried mushrooms, soaked for an hour in boiling water, then drained
1/2 cup diced shallot
1-1/2 cups frozen spinach, thawed and pressed in a seive to get as much water out as possible
1 link "italian style" chicken-turkey sausage (precooked, what I had left over in the fridge, you could use more, but this was plenty), diced

I sauted the 'shrooms and shallot in about a tsp. of olive oil, then added the spinach and sausage and heated it all through. This is a lot of spinach, and results in something that is about halfway between a spinach pie and a traditional quiche. If you want more of the creamy-egg-custard experience, cut back to about a half-cup of spinach.

To assemble, spread the mustard over the bottom of the pie shell, and sprinkle with about half the cheese. Top with the rest of whatever you're putting in that isn't the custard, reserving the remainder of the cheese. Pour the custard over, then sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top.

Bake at 350 for 40-45 minutes, until the top is starting to brown and center is set.

Allow to cool for a while before cutting. Delicious while warm, equally good at room temp and not bad at all cold from the fridge.

1 comment:

gterry said...

Pie crust sounds interesting, can't wait to try it.
Do you have any Greek recipes? I'm hosting a bridal shower for my daughter in a Greek restaurant, giving Greek oil & vinegar as a favor & want to put a few recipes in the bag.