Crustless quiche

Naked quiche flaunts flavor, nutrition and convenience

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Nora Ephron knew good. She celebrated, ever so cleverly, the pleasures of the balanced vinaigrette, key-lime pie, pastrami sandwich and true — if unexpected — love.

She had her prejudices too. No patience for disheveled hair or, strangely, quiche. She poked famous fun at the quivering pie in the line: "Pesto is the quiche of the '80s." Recycled from, "Pesto is the quiche of the '70s," and later upcycled into, "Focaccia is the new quiche." In the brilliant book "Heartburn" her alter-ego noted, tartly: "I was never completely idiotic — I never once made a quiche, for example."

Ephron may well be responsible for the quiche-bashing fad, which reached its low in the jibe: "Real men don't eat quiche." Making the brunch staple blush.

Why? Quiche is a savory tart. Buttery pastry wrapped around custard dotted with bits of ham or spinach. Sort of an omelet en croute. It's good warm or cool, travels well and — snagged from the bakery or fridge — makes quick work of breakfast, lunch or dinner. It's more versatile than pizza, which no one maligns.

Perhaps the problem is that quiche takes a light hand and a long time. That's easily remedied by going crustless. Naked quiche flaunts flavor, nutrition and convenience, minus the buttery pastry. Which might mean that in our time, quiche is the new quiche.

Crustless chard quiche

Prep: 30 minutes
Bake: 25 minutes
Makes: One 10-inch quiche, serves 8

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 large shallots, halved and thinly sliced
2 bunches chard, center ribs removed, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 eggs
3/4 cup whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup creme fraiche
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup shredded white cheddar cheese Unsalted butter

Wilt:
Heat oil in a wide, heavy skillet. Add shallots, salt and pepper and cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add chard and cook, stirring, until wilted, about 10 minutes. Increase heat to high and cook, stirring, until liquid has evaporated, about 1 minute. Cool slightly.

Mix:
Whisk together eggs, milk, heavy cream, creme fraiche and nutmeg. Stir in cheese. Stir in chard. Pour into a buttered 10-inch quiche dish or pie plate. (Note: Do not use a tart pan with a removable bottom.)

Bake:
Slide into the center of a 375-degree oven and bake until puffed and golden, about 25 minutes. Serve warm.

Leah Eskin is a Tribune Newspapers special contributor. Email her at leahreskin@aol.com.
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