The very first time that I decided to bake a quiche, my ingredient and methodology requirements were very different from what they are today. What do I mean? I was looking to make myself a dinner that was a) vegetarian, b) on-the-cheap, c) composed of ingredients that I could readily identify and locate in a Swedish grocery store.
Please remember back to a couple of weeks ago to when I told you about my first experiences shopping at my local Uppsala grocery story. Many a confused afternoon I spent lost in those aisles, wondering where they had hidden the peanut butters, considering the merits of buying my yogurt in a large bucket (complete with a handle), and hugely underestimating the difference between mjölk and filmjölk.
From my Swedish flat, thousands of miles from home, I recalled my mother standing at the kitchen counter in the house in which I grew up. She would pour over the thickly-stacked pages of The Joy of Cooking — that holy tome that housed the quiche recipe that she had so often drawn out for a simple weeknight meal, the recipe she still uses today. Three eggs, two cups of milk, a half-cup of cheese, and the fixings.
Of course, I know the ratio now, but back then, I had no idea, and so I went searching online for a recipe, finding one that called for cottage cheese in place a milk. Since having learned more about traditional quiche-making, I now know that the use of cottage cheese is unusual, but it hadn’t occurred to me as such at the time. I loved cottage cheese, and I knew exactly where they kept it at the store, and so I decided to give it a go. (And, in case you’re skeptical, the cottage cheese makes for absolute quiche perfection. Trust me — even if you don’t like the stuff.)
I put on my shoes, headed down the street, and rounded up the needed ingredients outlined in my recipe. I decided on a spinach and red onion variation and picked up an accompanying block of cheddar cheese, as that was what my mother had always used. Without having been able to find a ready-made pie crust (and without having the patience to put one together myself), I decided that the quiche would be crustless.
Six years later, this quiche, exactly how I made it that day, is still one of my very favorite things to cook. I like to cook it not because its method is fun or interesting, or even because the ingredients are particularly exciting. It isn’t; they’re not. There is no fanfare here. This quiche is not a souffle, it’s not a risotto — there is nothing whimsical or surprising about it. It’s just good. Simple and good — always good.
I’ve tried many variations — adding turkey sausage, subbing goat cheese, whisking in fresh herbs. Hell, I’ve even put a crust on the thing once or twice. But like all things that emerge from small and quiet moments of self-teaching, it is at its very best this way — simple, easy, and un-fooled-around-with.
This quiche is where east meets west. While it is very much a looking back on and a nod to my mother, it also represents the prerogative of a 21-year-old new cook finding her “sea legs,” so to speak — her own tastes, her own preferences, her own culinary constitution.
This weekend, my mother and I put together a couple of quiches for an Easter Sunday brunch, and this old friend of mine was on the menu as usual. Served up with a pile of crispy, salty, onion-studded home fries, this fluffy pie was the perfect sunny morning springtime meal.
Crustless spinach + cheddar quiche.
- Olive oil or butter, to brush the plate
- 4 eggs, whisked
- 16 ounces low-fat cottage cheese
- 9 ounces fresh spinach, sauteed, cooled completely, and drained very well
- 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
- 1/2 of a small red onion, finely chopped
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Brush the inside of a pie plate with olive oil or butter.
- Combine eggs, cottage cheese, spinach, onion, salt, and all but a few tablespoons of the cheese. Pour into the pie plate, and bake for about 45 minutes.
- Take the quiche from the oven and sprinkle the top with the remaining cheese. Return it to the oven and bake until melty and crispy, approximately another 10-15 minutes.