Bake up some romance at home this Valentine's Day with a savory brunch
In today's "Home with the Lost Italian," Sarah Nasello says this Three Cheese Ham and Spinach Quiche recipe can be customized with easy substitutions to find the perfect combination of ingredients for your loved one.
February will soon be here and with it comes one of my favorite occasions, Valentine’s Day. I love everything about this special day — hearts, candy, romance and good food.
The holiday falls on a Sunday this year, and with the pandemic keeping many celebrations at home, it is the perfect excuse to enjoy a romantic brunch with this Three Cheese Ham and Spinach Quiche.
In its simplest form, quiche is the ultimate egg pie, consisting of a custardy egg base and an assortment of ingredients, like meat, cheese and vegetables. I prefer my quiche to be an equal balance of flavor and textures — a crispy and flaky crust and a filling that is lush and creamy without being “too” eggy.
My February menu for SarahBakes will feature a variety of frozen, ready-to-bake brunch items, including this quiche, and I have been working on this recipe for the past month in my quest to achieve this perfect balance. After baking eight quiches, I am delighted with the final recipe.
While many quiche recipes call for four to five eggs and at least a cup or more of liquid (milk or cream), my recipe uses just three eggs and 1/3 cup of whole milk. The key to this base is the addition of cream cheese, which adds a rich and tangy flavor and helps the custard firm up as it bakes.
With the base mixture in place, I began to play with different combinations of flavor-building ingredients — and you can, too. This recipe features a mixture of ham, spinach, red onion and mushrooms, all finely chopped, as well as cheddar and Parmesan cheeses.
I have made three versions of quiche using the measurements from this recipe as a guide, with great results each time. You could use chicken breast instead of ham, mozzarella over cheddar, or swap out the mushrooms for asparagus or roasted red peppers — quiche is incredibly versatile, so feel free to get creative.
I make my own pie crust and keep extra in the freezer, but pre-made crusts are also very good and reliable. I have had the best result when the crust is nearly fully baked before adding the filling, which helps to prevent any soggy bottoms.
I place a pie shield or aluminum foil around the edges of the crust for most of the baking time to keep them from overbrowning as the quiche bakes. The crust can be baked up to two days in advance, or frozen for later use.
Once the crust is baked, I add the ham and vegetable mixture followed by the cheddar and Parmesan. Then, I pour the egg base over the top and bake the quiche for 25 minutes until golden brown. The quiche can be served warm or even at room temperature, and can also be frozen, either whole or in slices, for several months.
This Three Cheese Ham and Spinach Quiche is the perfect combination of flaky pie crust with a silky, smooth egg base and a savory combination of ingredients. If love is in the air, this year it tastes like quiche.
Three Cheese Ham and Spinach Quiche
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Serves: 6 to 8
1 sheet of pie crust (homemade or a premade crust)
1 egg white, lightly beaten
¾ cup cooked ham, finely chopped
1 cup fresh baby spinach, finely chopped
¼ cup red onion, finely chopped
½ cup baby bella mushrooms, thinly sliced
3 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
3 large or extra-large eggs
1/3 cup whole milk or half and half
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
½ cup cheddar cheese, shredded
¼ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
Directions to pre-bake the pie crust:
Line a 9-inch pie plate with the pie crust, leaving a 1-inch overhang. Crimp the edges using your fingers or a fork. To keep the crust from shrinking as it bakes, let it chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes before baking. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Line the pie crust with a layer of parchment paper and fill with pie weights (rice or dried beans also work), making sure to distribute evenly along the bottom and the sides.
Bake the crust until the edges start to brown, about 13 to 15 minutes. Remove from oven and reduce temperature to 375 degrees. Remove the parchment paper and pie weights from the pan.
Cover the edges of the crust with a pie shield or aluminum foil to prevent overbrowning. Return the crust to the oven and bake until the bottom and sides begin to turn a light, golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes (times will vary depending on your oven).
Remove crust from oven and use a pastry brush immediately to coat the bottom and sides with the beaten egg white. This will seal the crust and prevent weeping once the quiche is baked.
Let pie crust cool completely before using. Pre-baked pie crust may be covered in plastic wrap and stored at room temperature for up to 2 days or frozen for up to 3 months.
Directions to assemble and bake the quiche:
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
In a medium bowl, combine the ham, spinach, red onion and mushrooms; set aside.
In a large bowl, use a stand or hand-held mixer to beat the cream cheese on medium-high speed until smooth and creamy, about 1 to 2 minutes.
Add the eggs 1 at a time, beating hard after each addition until incorporated. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Add the whole milk and beat on medium-low speed until well combined.
Fill the cooled pie crust with the ham mixture, and then sprinkle the cheddar and Parmesan cheeses evenly over the top. Add the egg mixture and gently shake the pan to evenly distribute.
Cover the edges of the crust with a pie shield or aluminum foil to prevent overbrowning. Bake until the top of the quiche is golden brown and the center has just a slight jiggle, about 25 to 28 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes before slicing.
To store: Cover the quiche in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 2 months.
- The egg mixture is a base custard that can be used with any combination of ingredients. To change the variety, use measurements similar to the items listed in the recipe.
- To reheat a whole frozen quiche, bake at 375 degrees until the center is hot, about 45 to 50 minutes. Cover lightly with aluminum foil to keep the top from overbrowning.
- For easy reheating, freeze individual slices.
Recipe Time Capsule:
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Recipes can be found with the article at InForum.com.
“Home with the Lost Italian” is a weekly column written by Sarah Nasello featuring recipes by her husband, Tony Nasello. The couple owned Sarello’s in Moorhead and lives in Fargo with their son, Giovanni. Readers can reach them at firstname.lastname@example.org.