Pie

The Happiest Ending for Leftovers Is Quiche

April  3, 2017

Quiche seemes so…fussy. Like the meeting point of suburbia and elegance, a choice of certain shoulder-padded power-lunchers in 1980s New York and possibly the breakfast food doppelganger of Molly Ringwald in The Breakfast Club. It seems part museum café, part country club, part frozen food aisle.

But of course, more than any of this, quiche is delicious: It’s the lovechild of pie and frittata, after all. And if you are considering making one or the other, you may as well make quiche instead. It’s breakfast! It’s lunch! It’s eggs inside pie crust! And as with nearly every good egg or pie recipe, it greets riffing and reinterpretation with open arms. It’s exactly the sort of thing to make when you feel like you have nothing in the house: All you really need is eggs, some kind of milk, butter, and flour. Just add whatever leftovers you have. It’s as homely or sophisticated as you want it to be.

Photo by James Ransom

No matter what ends up in your quiche, here’s a rough guide for what you’re gonna need:

  • 1 9-inch pie crust (whatever your favorite recipe is; there are a few good ones here and here and here)
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 cup half-and-half (or other fatty dairy; see note below)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Cheeses, vegetables, alliums, and whatever else your little heart desires (2 to 3 cups total)

First, you’ll fiddle with the pie dough. This is where having a disk of dough you made back on that icy Saturday in January and tucked in the freezer for later comes in handy. If you do have one of those, pull it out and let it thaw in the refrigerator; if not, make up a batch of dough—maybe a recipe that makes two crusts, so that you can stash one for next time.


Step 1: Crust

If you’re making it fresh, consider zinging up the recipe a little: Add more cracked black pepper than seems like a good idea, or some grated Cheddar or Parmesan, or chopped fresh thyme, or lemon zest. Keep in mind the vision you have of your Dream Quiche while deciding what or whether to add; if you don’t have a Dream Quiche yet, throw caution to the wind, blend in whatever the spirit moves you to, then let that steer you towards fillings while the dough chills.

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Top Comment:
“Even easier--make a crustless quiche. Cook 1/2 cup of grains or quinoa (or repurpose leftover grains). Add that to the custard mixture and bake as directed.”
— drbabs
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Once you’ve made the dough and chilled it (at least an hour in the fridge), treat it just like you would the usual pie dough. Roll it out on a floured surface, maneuver it as confidently as possible into a 9-inch pie dish, trim the edges, and crimp up the sides however pleases you. (A little inspiration from the one, the only, the great Erin McDowell.)

What’s that! You want to make a bunch of extremely adorable quiches in mini tartlet pans instead of in one big pie plate? Be my guest! All of the following still applies, except that they will bake more quickly than a larger quiche—the exact time will depend on the size of your tartlet pans. Just keep a careful eye on them, and set the pans on a large baking sheet so that you can pull them in and out of the oven together.

Pop the whole thing into the fridge for a few minutes while you preheat the oven to 425° F and recall the details of parbaking crust, which will pre-cook (and crisp) the crust before the egg custard goes in. It should chill at least 20 minutes. Prick the cold dough with a fork a couple of times, then set a sheet of parchment paper inside, fill with pie weights (or dried beans), and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until the edges of the crust are beginning to turn golden. You’re doing great so far!


Step 2: The Egg-Dairy Mixture

Photo by James Ransom

While the crust parbakes, grab a whisk and beat together the eggs and whatever kind of dairy you like, as long as it has a good bit of fat in it. This is no time for skim—we’re going for a custard here: Half-and-half is a classic choice, but a mixture of whole milk (or goat’s milk! Or buttermilk!) and half-and-half would also be great.

Pull the crust from the oven and brush a bit of the egg-dairy mixture you just made over the base of the crust, then pop it back into the oven for another minute or so. This is a trick the aforementioned Erin McDowell the Great taught me, and one that helps to keep the crust crisp by acting as a sort of rain slicker, a barrier between the golden crust and the wet egg custard.


Step 3: The Other Fillings

Photo by James Ransom

Let the crust cool to lukewarm while you prep your other fillings. This is your chance to really go wild: Alliums! Vegetables! Herbs! Cheeses galore! Sausage or bacon or what-meat-have-you! Last night’s leftovers! There are only two rules: The first is that meats, vegetables, and alliums should all be cooked before they’re piled into the pie crust; anything that you’d cook before putting it into an omelet should get the same treatment here. The second is that the fillings should be almost entirely covered by the eggs. If you prepare more filling than seems to fit inside the crust, toss them together in a little bowl to eat as an amuse-bouche while the quiche bakes.

Photo by James Ransom

If you are feeling overwhelmed by the possibilities, here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • The classic quiche Lorraine: crisp bacon + shredded Gruyère + sautéed shallots
  • Cobb-ish: crisp bacon + sautéed cherry tomatoes + shredded chicken + caramelized onions + blue cheese + wilted watercress
  • Swirl of pesto + fat dollops of ricotta
  • Lemon zest + tons of finely chopped herbs (a mix would be nice—dill, parsley, mint, whatever’s wilting in the fridge…)
  • Crumbled chorizo + goat cheese + garlicky sautéed greens
  • Black pepper + butter-sautéed leeks + spoonfuls of crème fraîche + ribbons of basil
Photo by James Ransom

Once the crust is cool, drop the oven temperature down to 350° F, layer in the fillings, and carefully pour the egg custard over them. (Save any final fillings—like the last sprinkle or herbs or the dollops of cheese—until after you’ve poured the eggs in.) Into the oven again, this time for 45 minutes to an hour. The eggs should appear juuust set, even a little soft in the center. If the crust seems to be browning too quickly, carefully, lovingly tent the edges with aluminum foil.


Step 4: The Waiting

Photo by James Ransom

The hardest part about cooking is always waiting, and this is where you will be glad that you made a little too much filling and saved it to snack on: Let the quiche cool on a wire rack until lukewarm before cutting into it. This lets the custard really set up. Luckily, quiche is most delicious at room temperature, so it’s truly all for the best. Dream Quiche, realized.

27 Comments

sel April 9, 2017
love all the comments....will try some of them. love the idea of egg on the crust. thanks y'all
 
Charles F. April 9, 2017
That looks suspiciously like a recipe, to me.
 
Sharon H. April 9, 2017
Try an olive oil crust if you don't like a "pastry" one....though these tend to be a bit more resistant to the knife. Thanks for this article - are the 80's really back? Yikes. Will have to knit some legwarmers pronto.
 
Jimsqueenie April 15, 2017
That is very funny, Sharon. I have a small drawer filled with them and I haven't worn any of them and we lived in the mountains of CA for over 20 years in a cabin that was heated with a wood stove. What was I thinking? lol
 
Julie April 9, 2017
I'd like to make a few quiches for an upcoming brunch - how far ahead could I make them?
 
Sharon H. April 9, 2017
Best to freeze them after baking. Otherwise probably the day before maximum, otherwise the crust will become soggy.
 
Caroline S. April 9, 2017
Plan and then work backward from the time you want to serve, so that all are cooked and the oven cleaned up before greeting your guests. You can make the pastry the day before and stack the disks in the fridge. Cook and "hold" any fillings that require it--for example, enough onion-kind to sprinkle in each pie; grate and bag your cheeses. Then day-off, you just need to become an assembly line with the goal of finishing baking so the pies cool during final prep for the brunch. This assumes that you're OK with getting up early on brunch day!
 
Pumpkiness April 16, 2017
You can also roll out your dough the day before. Just cover and refrigerate. Less mess the day your guests will arrive. <br /><br />Thank you for the article. Our aspargus is up and I'm planning to make several quiches to freeze for summer guests. Good to know about the egg raincoat.
 
Marianne April 9, 2017
Non-fussy? If it involved making pie dough, forget it. Can you recommend a brand of ready-made pie crusts?
 
Whitney April 9, 2017
How about no pie dough! Just generously butter pan of choice!
 
Marianne April 9, 2017
That works for me! I'd still be interested in a good ready-made pie crust brand. Any recommendations?
 
Whitney April 9, 2017
I haven't tried a pre-made crust in years because my experience has always been the taste of cardboard! I would think a frozen dough that you roll yourself would produce a flakier end result!
 
Rita April 9, 2017
In a pinch you I have used pillsbury ready made pie crust and it works fine. Sometimes a homemade flakey crust is not the best as it doesn't hold up well.
 
Rita April 9, 2017
I make a lot of quiche and have use pillsbury ready made pie crust. It works fine. I have found that Sometimes a flakey crust does not hold up to the moisture.
 
Marianne April 9, 2017
Thanks!
 
Jamie H. April 9, 2017
For years I've cheated and used "Wholly Wholesome" frozen organic spelt pie shells - they come two per pack, already in the pie tin, and they bake up perfectly. (Also no pre-baking required! Also semi healthy!)
 
trefoiles April 9, 2017
Trader Joe's has a very decent frozen pie crust if you need one in a pinch
 
Rita April 9, 2017
I don't pre-bake the pillsbury crust...
 
Lauren G. April 5, 2017
Anyone ever put potato at the bottom of a quiche? I used to enjoy this at a now-closed restaurant years ago
 
Katie April 9, 2017
Hi Lauren, I have done it with frozen shredded hash brown. I just cook them a bit before you put then in the bottom of the dish!! A nice twist with no crust.
 
Lauren G. April 9, 2017
Ooh this is a great idea! I will try that, thanks!
 
Noreen F. April 4, 2017
I'm not a huge fan of pie crust (heresy, I know!), so I'd just as soon make a frittata.
 
Whitney April 9, 2017
You could easily make with recipe frittata style with no crust. It would of course be more of a custard consistency then eggy.
 
drbabs April 3, 2017
Wow, the 80's really are back! (I used to do this ALL the time!) Even easier--make a crustless quiche. Cook 1/2 cup of grains or quinoa (or repurpose leftover grains). Add that to the custard mixture and bake as directed.
 
Sarah J. April 3, 2017
When can we start wearing sweatbands????
 
Author Comment
Caroline L. April 3, 2017
i heard that scrunchies are back!!!
 
drbabs April 5, 2017
And leg warmers!<br />