I’m part of a baking club who meet once a month; this month the theme was ‘From the Garden’. I baked a quiche that was packed with vegetables and herbs (and cheese!) that was basically a pimped-up version of the kind of thing my mum often bakes for big family parties. The great thing about quiche is that they’re delicious hot, warm or cold (generally I prefer warm or room temperature) and there’s no end to the kinds of fillings you can put in them, so let your imagination run riot. If you’re not feeding this to anyone vegetarians, the addition of a few chopped rashers of streaky bacon (added when cooking the onions) would be superb. Though my instructions seem lengthy, this isn’t a difficult thing to make, but it does have several stages and therefore take a bit of time. The rewards are worth it though – no shop-bought pastry is going to have anywhere near as much flavour.
Vegetable Quiche with Parmesan and Rosemary Pastry
For the pastry:
- 200g plain flour
- 100g cold butter, diced
- 1 tsp salt
- 35g finely grated parmesan
- 1 tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped as finely as possible
- about 4 tbsp cold water
If you have a food processor, pulse the flour, butter and salt together until it resembles breadcrumbs. If you don’t have a food processor you can do this by hand by lightly rubbing the butter and flour through the tips of your fingers and thumb; be as gentle and quick as possible as you don’t want the butter to melt. However you do it, once you have reached the breadcrumb stage, put the mixture in a large bowl and add the parmesan and rosemary. Use the tip of a dinner or butter knife to stir the cheese and herbs into the breadcrumb mix. Sprinkle over 3 tablespoons of the water and, still using the knife, make cutting motions through the mixture until it starts to come together – you may need to add more water, but be sparing – the less water you can use the better. Bring the dough together with your hands and as quickly as possible form it into a flat disc shape (this will help when rolling out later). Wrap in clingfilm and chill in the fridge for half an hour.
Prepare your quiche or flan tin: you need an 8″ or 9″ tin and if you’re using a loose-bottomed tin so that you can remove and display it then give it a light greasing. Lightly flour a board or clean work surface and rolling pin. Take the pastry out of the fridge, unwrap and place on the board. Roll the dough lightly but firmly, using small strokes of the rolling pin and giving a quarter turn every now and again – you’re aiming to get the pastry about as thick as a pound coin and about an inch wider all around than the quiche dish. Don’t worry too much if the pastry cracks towards the edges – you can patch it with any pastry that overhangs the edges of the dish. Use the rolling pin to lift the pastry into the prepared dish and gently ease it into the corners with your finger tips. Use any over hanging pastry to patch up any gaps, pressing it in to seal the pastry together – don’t trim any excess from the rim of the dish yet. Prick the base all over with a fork, cover with clingfilm and put back in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Heat the oven to 200C. Take the pastry-lined dish out of the fridge and remove the clingfilm. Trim the surplus pastry with a knife or by rolling your rolling pin over the top of the dish. Line with greaseproof paper and weigh it down – you can use baking beads, uncooked rice or beans or even coins. Bake for 15 minutes, then remove the greaseproof paper and whatever is weighing it down, then bake for a further 10-15 minutes until pale golden and firm; this first blind-bake is what should help prevent a soggy bottom! Remove from the oven until you’re ready with the filling; it doesn’t matter if it cools down completely or is still warm when the filling goes in.
For the filling:
- 1 tbsp oil
- 2 red onions, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1 large red pepper, stalk and seed removed and thinly sliced
- 1 large courgette, halved lengthways and sliced
- 1 punnet mushrooms, sliced
- generous shake of dried oregano
- handful fresh parsley, finely chopped
- handful fresh basil, finely chopped
- salt & pepper
- 4 eggs, beaten
- 100ml double cream
- 2 mugs full grated cheddar
In a large frying pan heat the oil and on a medium heat begin frying the onions, stirring occasionally . Add a good pinch of salt and pepper at this stage as this will help the onions to cook without browning. After about 5 minutes add the sliced pepper and continue cooking for another 5 minutes. Next, add the courgette and cook for 5 minutes, then the mushrooms and dried oregano, cooking for another 5 minutes until everything is soft and cooked through. Turn off the heat and stir through the chopped fresh herbs.
In a large jug or bowl mix together the beaten egg and cream. Add another pinch of salt and pepper and about half the grated cheese and give it all a stir to combine. Spoon the vegetable mixture into the pastry case making sure it’s evenly spread. You want it to be generously filled but not overflowing. Slowly pour the cheesy egg mixture into the pastry case, making sure all the vegetables get covered – don’t let it overflow. Sprinkle over the remaining cheese and bake at 200C for about 30-35 minutes until golden brown. Perfect with new potatoes, all kinds of salads and cold meats.