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Published April 17, 2012, 11:30 PM

Try phyllo dough and leftovers in simple quiche

Just when you thought you couldn’t stand to look at another egg, there’s a carton staring at you in the refrigerator. Or perhaps you have leftover asparagus, the harbinger of spring often served as a spring side dish. One quick and easy way to use both is to make a quiche.

By: Susan M. Selasky, Detroit Free Press, INFORUM

Just when you thought you couldn’t stand to look at another egg, there’s a carton staring at you in the refrigerator. Or perhaps you have leftover asparagus, the harbinger of spring often served as a spring side dish.

One quick and easy way to use both is to make a quiche.

The main part of a quiche is a custard mixture of eggs, milk and/or cream, cheese and some seasonings poured into a partially baked pie shell. Other ingredients like sauteed mushrooms, onions or other vegetables or things such as ham, sausage or seafood often are added to the custard. Or they are set in the bottom of the pie crust before pouring the custard in.

Quiche can be served with a side salad of mixed greens tossed in a light vinaigrette for lunch or dinner. Quiche is also a good make-ahead-and-reheat dish that is easy to make, especially if you use a store bought crust.

Many quiche recipes call for using a single pastry crust made with butter and shortening.

In today’s recipe, phyllo dough is used. If you’re not familiar with phyllo (Fee-loh) dough, it’s delicate, tissue-thin sheets of pastry. It’s used a lot in Greek and Middle Eastern dishes or pastries.

Phyllo works great, is a nice change to the standard pastry crust and a way to reduce the fat. One sheet of phyllo has 1 gram of fat. Today’s recipe calls for 8 sheets of phyllo, which accounts for 8 grams of fat in the crust. A typical store- bought pastry crust has 65 grams of fat for the entire crust.

What scares people away from using phyllo is the sheets have a tendency to tear. This does happen, but all you need to do is wrap or top it with another sheet of phyllo over the tear.

Most recipes call for brushing the sheets with melted butter and layering on top of each other. When you brush the sheets, do so in streaks and don’t saturate the sheets or they will get soggy, tear or fall apart when you stack them. You also can spray them with nonstick spray.

Most grocery stores sell phyllo frozen for about $3. Athens is a common brand. Buy the box with the smaller size sheets (about 9-by-14-inch). This smaller size comes packaged in two separate rolls and is individually sealed. And it’s much easier to work with.

Always thaw phyllo in the refrigerator and not at room temperature. You can refreeze, well wrapped, what portions you don’t use.

Bring phyllo dough to room temperature just before using, and always keep the unused portion covered with a damp towel.

ASPARAGUS QUICHE WITH PHYLLO CRUST

Makes: One 9-inch quiche (8 slices)

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Total time: 1 hour

4 eggs

1 cup low-fat milk

½ cup fat-free or low-fat half-and-half

1¼ cups Italian -blend cheese

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon dried Italian seasoning

Salt and pepper to taste

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

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

2 teaspoons olive oil

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

1½ cups frozen leaf spinach

4 thin slices of tomatoes

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 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 one sheet at a time, brush it lightly in streaks with the melted butter. Place one sheet in the pie plate in the center allowing at least 1 inch to hang over the edge. Brush another sheet and place it on top of the first one crosswise. Continue brushing the sheets with butter and layering them in this fashion, making sure you have an overhang around the entire edge. Fold the overhang over to form an edge and brush with butter.

Bake for 6-8 minutes.

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

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

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

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

234 calories (52 percent from fat ), 14 grams fat (7 grams sat. fat ), 16 grams carbohydrates, 12 grams protein, 367 mg sodium, 129 mg cholesterol, 2 grams fiber.

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