Caramelized Onion, Sun-dried Tomato, and Goat Cheese Quiche

Quiche. Oh my god, quiche. I love quiche. It is astoundingly underrated. For instance, when you go to brunch, what do you have swimming in your head, what options are you fanning through mentally? Omelet, egg scramble, french toast, pancakes, eggs benedict, fresh juice, eggs-in-a-basket, biscuits and gravy… the classics. But as you frustratingly toy between deciding sweet or savory (eventually just going for the huge breakfast platter that combines both), quiche is just sitting there on the side, being absurdly perfect, waiting for you to remember. Quiche isn’t offered at every restaurant or brunch place. It’s a little bit “fancy,” and it may only be available at your delicious-yet-kind-of-hipster/trendy neighborhood haunt. (I can think specifically of my favorite brunch place in the city- Birchwood Kitchen- with their quiches sitting poised atop a glass cabinet of salads and baked goods). So it’s fair that it’s not a regular go-to when you’re sitting down for brunch on a Sunday morning at 11am. But I am here to fight for it. Fight for its representation. Because, guys, it’s basically PIE filled with EGGS. With fillings that are delightful and usually perfectly fresh and almost always healthy yet delicious.

So you can’t get it out all the time, or maybe you still insist that you can’t make french toast at home (eh hem, you can), but there’s no reason not to delight in the wonder that is quiche when the craving hits. (It’s actually hitting you right now, you just don’t remember). There is a crust to quiche, and I personally am annoyed when Pinterest links and Internet sites quote recipes for “crustless quiches,” because those totally already exist, everyone; they’re called frittatas, and they are too delicious, in their own way. But making a crust can scare people away, moreso than even French toast or pancakes from scratch. If you have 5 minutes, a rolling pin, and butter and flour, you can make pie crust. It’s even easier in a food processor, but absolutely not necessary. If you were to be making an actual fancy pie, I’m certain there would be more crust rules. But you’re making a brunch item. This just needs to taste good.

Now, the second part of quiche that has people worried is the filling. What should you put inside there!? Eggs, obviously, but the additional components and flavor combinations are endless. It’s at least as expansive as the variety afforded to omelets, but with the benefit of not compromising the tedious and delicate cooking process of preparing an omelet. I like things to be relatively simple, in the interest of highlighting genuine flavors, and am a huge sucker for caramelized onions all the time. The beauty of these ingredients (which are listed below) is that they are available and delicious at any time of the year. If it’s summer and you would prefer to highlight the bounty of summer vegetables then available, by all means do so. But this quiche is a good staple and a good place to start.

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Caramelized Onion, Sun-dried Tomato, and Goat Cheese Quiche

Serves 6

Crust

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (or a 50/50 ratio of all-purpose and whole wheat)
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 8 tbsp./ 1 stick/ 1/4 lb. of unsalted butter, cold and diced
  • 3-6 tbsp. ice water, reserved

Filling

  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, sliced thinly
  • 2/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • Salt & pepper to season, to taste
  • 5 eggs
  • 3/4 cup milk, anything but skim
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 oz. (about 1/4 cup) goat cheese, crumbled

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Prepare a 9-inch pie pan by coating it thinly with butter and set aside.

Begin by preparing the filling. In a medium sauté pan, over medium heat, add 1 tbsp. olive oil and the sliced yellow onions. Cook until lightly browning and softened, about 15 minutes. Add the chopped sun-dried tomatoes, mix, and heat through. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

To make the crust, mix the flour(s) and salt together in a medium mixing bowl. Add the cold and diced butter, and, using your fingertips, mix the butter into the flour. The butter should gradually breakdown to pea-sized pieces, and the whole mixture will look almost sandy with small clumps. Then, slowly add the ice water, starting with 3 tbsp. then adding by 1/2-1 tbsp. as needed. Mix the water into the flour mixture with your hands until evenly distributed. You should continue to add water until you have a shaggy dough that forms the shape of your first when you squeeze it and just stays together in a small ball. Pour the dough out onto a floured surface or counter (there should be some dry scraggly bits) and mold into a flat disc. Use a rolling pin to roll out the dough into a circle about 2-3 inches wider in diameter than the pie pan. The dough will likely break a bit as you roll it out, but just push the broken pieces back together. The easiest way to transfer the dough to the pie pan is to roll it onto the rolling pin and then unroll it over the pan. Press the crust dough into the pan, consolidating the dough at the edges to form an even, slightly thickened ridge elevated about 1/2 an inch above the edge of the pan. Your dough will likely be an uneven circle, so just transfer pieces as needed to more “thin” areas. From here, you can flute the edges of the dough if you want, or just leave it as is. To flute the crust, indent the crust from the outside with the pointer finger of your right hand against the counter-pressure of your thumb and pointer finger of your left hand, making a triangle of dough, essentially. Go around the entire crust that way. It won’t look perfect. That’s fine.

Once the dough is complete, add your vegetables. Ideally, you should have about 2 cups of vegetables in your quiche with a standard pie pan (if your pan is deeper, you may want to amp up the veggies by another cup or so). Whisk together the eggs, milk, and 1/2 tsp. of salt and pour over the veggies. Scoot the veggies around some if needed so everything is evenly distributed. Top the filling with goat cheese, sprinkling it evenly over the quiche.

Place the quiche in the oven and bake for 40-50 minutes, until the center is set (the eggs shouldn’t wiggle or jiggle in the pan, but rather look quite firm and fluffy). Remove the quiche to cool slightly, for about 10 minutes, and serve.

 

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Delicious, buttery pie crust, with creamy eggs and the burst of sweet then savory then cheesy flavor. Make a quiche next time. Please.

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Pasta Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette and Sun-dried Tomatoes

It’s approaching the day. Monday. The day in which I finally discover what -20 degrees Fahrenheit feels like. With wind chill, I imagine the meteorologists will claim the air “feels like” it is even colder, which is unfathomable, because who can possibly discern between temperatures that cold? If any of your skin is exposed, it’s instantly numbed, so what “feeling” will I be doing exactly? Regardless, I should be binging on soup and hot chocolate and deeply warm dinners, but instead I’m still yearning for fresh, bright, vegetable-heavy dishes that almost let me believe Spring is in the reasonable future (It’s not. At all). It probably helps that I’m planning monthly vacations to decidedly warmer climates to ease the pain of continuing this horrible Chicago winter. I’ll almost definitely be diving back into comfort food by mid-week, once I regain feeling in my limbs and tongue, but for the weekend, with highs in the mid-twenties, I’ll turn the heat down a bit, put on a sweatshirt, and dig into some delightful pasta and vegetables.  Beyond fresh and remarkably flavorful, this pasta salad is also quite quick to come together, and it serves perfectly as either an entree or side. So add it to your favorite chicken dish, Brian, or just pile it into a bowl. Either way, please don’t skimp on the sun-dried tomatoes.

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Pasta Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette and Sun-dried Tomatoes

Serves 4 for a meal, 6 for a side

6 oz. pasta

3 cups spinach

1 large cucumber, sliced thinly

Several stalks of green onions, sliced

1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped roughly

3 oz. feta cheese, crumbled

Juice of 1 lemon

1 tbsp. oil from sun-dried tomatoes

1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp. honey

1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. dried thyme

1/4 tsp. dried oregano

1/8 tsp. cayenne peper

1/8 tsp. freshly cracked black pepper

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, with a heavy pinch of salt added. Add pasta and cook according to package directions. I used a mixture of gemelli and bowtie pasta, because I didn’t have quite enough of either (and now I’m out of pasta entirely). These pasta cooked for the same amount of time, which I’d advise if you’re mixing. Once cooked, set aside to cool slightly.

In a lidded jar or a bowl, add lemon juice, oil from the jar of sun-dried tomatoes, olive oil, honey, and spices. Shake the jar or whisk vigorously until the liquids form a smooth vinaigrette. (If the liquids are too cold, and the honey won’t dissolve, heat the mixture for about 10 seconds in the microwave to facilitate the emulsion process). Pour the lemon vinaigrette over the pasta and mix to combine.

While the dressed pasta is cooling, chop the cucumber into thin quarter-rounds (I slice the entire cucumber down the longitudinal axis so it’s halved, then slice each half longitudinally again to make long cucumber quarters. Line up the quarters and slice thinly, approximately 1/4 inch slices). Slice green onions thinly, and chop the sun-dried tomatoes. Toss the pasta with the sliced vegetables until evenly mixed. Refrigerate the pasta and vegetables until more significantly cooled, about 30 minutes to an hour.

Once the pasta is cooler, toss with feta cheese and spinach, mixing thoroughly. It is now complete! Refrigerate for an additional 4-6 hours, or overnight ideally, to serve cold. The flavors marry and become more deliciously intense with time, so I find this pasta to be better and better each day. I more or less ate it for every meal at home for 3 days straight. So forget about the temperatures, Brian; eat your vegetables and pretend it’s warm outside.