I am a planner. I like to organize things and catalog them and plot them out on a timeline if they will let me. I am a librarian, after all. At work I have a master To Do list on my computer that is then broken up into sub-lists, including To Do This Week, To Do This Term, To Do This Summer, you get the idea. I also have a Projects list on a whiteboard in my office, just in case my other lists distract me from what’s really important.
This extends to my personal life as well, and definitely to my kitchen. I have a list of my goals for the year next to my bed, so that I can read them every night and stay motivated. I never (well, hardly ever) go to the grocery store before planning out the week’s meals and making a list. When I first started cooking, I always, always followed a recipe. It didn’t even occur to me, in fact, that there was any other way. And I liked how following a recipe gave me a consistent, predictable result.
Thankfully, I have learned by now that so much of cooking is unplanned. It’s about tasting and adjusting and customizing. Especially since we’ve moved to the Pacific Northwest where there is so much fresh, local produce, I have embraced seasonal cooking, which means you have to be ready to do what you can with what you’ve got at any given time of year. I encountered a perfect example of this one weekend recently when David and I went to our first farmers’ market of the spring.
It is still indoors, in a warehouse-like building on the fairgrounds. The outdoor market won’t return until later this month, but spring was definitely making its presence known. The booths had more life, the whole place was humming, there were spring onions. Spring onions! They even have the word ‘spring’ in their name. So, of course, we bought some. We also gathered a hodge-podge of other vegetables, whatever spoke to us, as well as a dozen pullet eggs, which are the petite eggs of a hen under 1-year-old.
I didn’t know what I was going to do with our random purchases and I started to feel a little Type-A panic about it. But when we got home and unpacked everything it became clear: a spring quiche was in order. It was the best kind of unplanned meal – fresh ingredients combining with a well-stocked pantry to create something delightful.
Hearty Farmers’ Market Quiche
In the spirit of spontaneity, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that this recipe can be endlessly adapted and tinkered with. In fact, that’s what a quiche is for, in my opinion. Especially when it comes to what vegetables and cheese you use. You can use almost anything you can imagine. Just keep the proportions of vegetables and cheese to eggs and milk about what they are in this recipe and you will be sitting pretty.
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup buckwheat flour
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
- 4 tablespoons butter, cut into chunks and chilled or frozen
- 1 tablespoon cream cheese, at room temperature
- 2 tablespoons milk, chilled (I used 1%)
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 bunch (about 4 cups) Russian kale, ribs removed and then chopped
- 4 spring onions (white and green parts divided), chopped
- 5 large eggs (or equivalent in pullet eggs)
- 1 cup milk (I used 1%, use whatever you have on hand)
- 3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
- Salt and pepper, to taste
First, prepare and prebake the crust:
In a medium bowl whisk together flours, salt, sugar, and baking powder. Add the butter pieces and cream cheese and work into dry mixture, using a pastry cutter or your fingers, until most butter and cream cheese bits are pea-sized.
Whisk together the milk and oil, and then add all at once to the flour and butter mixture. Combine wet and dry ingredients with a fork until the liquid is just incorporated. Do not overwork – the dough will not totally come together, it will stay sort of shaggy.
Dump the dough into a clean 9-inch pie pan and use your fingers to press the dough evenly into the bottom and up the sides. Try to get it as even as possible, but don’t worry about it too much – no one will ever see it!
Put the crust in the freezer for at least 20 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350°.
Once your crust is frozen, line it with foil and fill it with beans or some other pie weight. Bake for 8 minutes. Then remove pie weights and foil and bake for another 4-6 minutes until it starts to brown.
While the crust is baking, prepare the filling:
In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add kale and the white parts of the spring onions. Cook until kale is wilted, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in spring onion green parts, then set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together eggs and milk, then stir in the feta. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
When the crust is done prebaking and the filling is prepared, raise the oven temperature to 375°. Spread vegetable mixture over the bottom of the crust, and then pour in egg mixture.
Bake the quiche for 45 minutes or until quiche is set and the top is golden brown. Let stand for 10-15 minutes before serving.