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Author Notes: I was inventing this on the fly, late one afternoon. I wanted to twist up the pepper, onions, and sausage combination in a new way. First, I was going to whip up some cauliflower hash browns and use them as a crust. But when I made the mixture, I included cheese and by the looks of it, I decided to just line the bottom of a large pan and pre-bake it for toppings. I had decided on the combination of bulk sausage and links. And I wanted to make a vegetable layer and a cheese layer (in some order, but I only decided at the last minute which way to go with that). When I mixed the ricotta, cheeses and eggs, I was well on the way to a quiche custard, so I first layered the pepper and onions onto the crust, then poured the cheese mixture, then distributed the meat.
I was deciding what to name this thing while I was eating it, and I found out that the Germans make something called a Zwiebelkuchen (onion cake), and that kuchen is the etymological origin of the work quiche. The Zwiebelkuchen is either made either flat or deep-dish, starting with a pastry crust that contains caraway seeds – proof positive that I did not know of these Zwiebelkuchen, because adding caraway seeds to the crust is a simply awesome idea. A ton of caramelized onions are added to the crust, which is then covered by an egg and sour cream mixture and topped with a meat.
I made a cauliflower crust based on some cauliflower hash brown recipes. I used pepper and onions for the vegetable layer and a ricotta/cheese/egg mixture for the custard. Then I topped it all with a mixture of the bulk sausage and sausage slices, with a sprinkle of cheese at the end.
A 2.5 x 3.5 inch slice, 1/16 of the 9x13 pan, clocks in at only 350 calories with 10g total carbs (4g of which are sugars that mostly come from the onions). —Brian Coppola
Makes 16 pieces
- 5 cups cauliflower (riced in a food processor)
- 4 teaspoons starch
- 3 tablespoons EVOO
- 2 teaspoons white pepper
- 4 ounces sharp white cheddar cheese
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- 2-3 teaspoons caraway seeds (I wish I knew this the first time!)
- 1 pound sweet Italian sausage, bulk
- 4 links hot Italian sausages (ca. 1.2 lbs)
- 2 red bell peppers, chopped
- 2 medium sweet onions, chopped
- 5 large eggs, beaten
- 12 ounces ricotta, drained
- 6-7 ounces shredded mozzarella
- 6-7 ounces shredded parmesan (divided in 2 portions)
- 2 tablespoons white pepper
- 2 tablespoons fennel seeds
- 2 tablespoons minced garlic
- 2 tablespoons oregano leaves
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- Crust: combine and mix the cauliflower and cheese
- add the starch, pepper, eggs, and EVOO, mix well
- spread evenly into an oiled 9x13 pan
- bake to light golden, 25 min, 375F, remove and reserve
- Filling: broil the sausage links at 400F for 15 min, turning 3 times, remove and reserve (slice just before assembly)
- brown the bulk sausage in a skillet on medium heat, add some fennel seeds and pepper, remove and reserve
- combine ricotta, mozzarella, eggs, pepper, half the parmesan, reserve
- half caramelize the onions in scant oil, then add the peppers, near the end, add garlic to heat, then combine with tomato paste, fennel, oregano, white pepper
- Assembly: add the pepper/onion mixture onto the crust, spread evenly
- pour the egg/cheese mixture onto the vegetable layer and even out
- distribute the browned ground meat on top, then distribute the sliced sausage pieces
- sprinkle with pepper and fennel seeds
- cook for 60 minutes at 375F, topping with the remaining parmesan for the last 10 minutes
- remove and let set for a few minutes, cut into 16 pieces; each slice is est. 350 cal with 10 g total carb including 4-5 g sugars