Phyllo crust puts crunch in quintessential quiche

Pasta carbonara, the topic of this blog’s previous post, soon will be a welcome way of using more eggs.

That’s my expectation since some long-awaited chickens arrived on our property last week. They’re still too young to lay but in short order should produce more than enough eggs for our typical needs.

Quiche is another dish likely to crop up more often. It’s always been one of my preferred ways to use up a half-dozen or so eggs, along with just about any assortment of veggies and bits of meat and cheese.

Over the years, I’ve transitioned from using a standard pie crust in a pie plate to a puff-pastry crust in a tart pan, which cooks much more quickly. I’ve only made my own dough a handful of times, preferring to prepare quiche on the fly with pantry staples, like refrigerated puff pastry. But if I wanted to lavish some extra effort on quiche, I’d consult Julia Child’s classic recipe for Quiche Lorraine.

More recently, I’ve experimented with packaged phyllo dough for quiche, much like the method for this recipe from the Detroit Free Press. Flaky phyllo brings a crunchy contrast to quiche’s soft, rich custard.

This is a lovely treatment for peak-season asparagus but can transition with the seasons. One of my favorite formulas for phyllo quiche combines grated zucchini, lemon zest, fresh mint and feta to play up phyllo’s Greek origins.

The tissue-thin sheets can be a little tricky to handle. It’s key to keep it covered with a damp tea towel or paper towel. Once air hits phyllo, it will dry out.

But if you make a little tear, it’s OK because most recipes involve lots of phyllo layers, typically brushed with melted butter (sometimes clarified) to impart crispiness. Take care that the layers aren’t too butter-soaked, however, or they will tear more easily. You can rewrap and freeze the unused phyllo dough.

Tribune News Service photo

Asparagus Quiche With Phyllo Crust

4 large eggs

1 cup low-fat milk

1/2 cup fat-free or low-fat half-and-half

1 1/4 cups Italian-blend cheese

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning

Salt and pepper, to taste

8 (9-by-14-inch) sheets phyllo dough, thawed

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 1/2 cups asparagus, cut in 1-inch pieces (plus 8 spears, about 3 inches long, with tips)

1 1/2 cups frozen leaf spinach or fresh spinach

4 thin tomato slices

Preheat oven to 350 F. Have ready a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate. In a medium bowl, whisk together the milk, half-and-half, cheese, Italian seasoning, flour, salt and pepper. Set aside.

Set the phyllo on a clean work surface and cover with a damp paper towel. Working with 1 sheet at a time, brush it lightly in streaks with the melted butter. Place 1 sheet in pie plate’s center allowing at least 1 inch to hang over edge. Brush another sheet and place it, crosswise, on top of the first. Continue brushing sheets with butter and layering them in this fashion, making sure you have an overhang around entire edge. Fold overhang over to form an edge and brush with butter.

Bake in preheated oven for 6 to 8 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the asparagus pieces and sauté for 3 to 5 minutes. Add the spinach and sauté for 2 minutes or until almost dry. Season with the salt and pepper to taste.

Remove partially baked phyllo crust from oven. Place asparagus-spinach mixture over bottom of crust. Pour egg mixture over asparagus. Arrange the tomato slices in center and then arrange the 8 asparagus spears in a circular pattern out from tomato slices.

Bake in preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until filling is set and slightly puffy. If edges begin to brown too quickly, cover them loosely with foil.

When filling is set, remove from oven and let sit for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

Makes 1 (9-inch) quiche (8 slices).

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    Sarah Lemon

    Sarah Lemon covers the Rogue Valley’s food scene with an enthusiasm that rivals her love of cooking. Her blog mixes culinary musings and milestones with tips and recipes you won’t find in the Mail Tribune’s weekly A la Carte section. When ... Read Full
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