One of my favorite recent cookbook finds is called The Enchanted Broccoli Forest by Mollie Katzen. I was visiting a friend one day, and noticed her mother’s cookbook collection, in which TEBF was included (along with another of Mollie Katzen’s books, the Moosewood Cookbook). Not only do I love the name, which is accompanied by a photograph of said forest (a casserole of rice with broccoli florets sticking up like trees), but the recipes are hand-written with sketches and drawings scattered throughout. Mollie was one of the founding members at the Moosewood Restaurant in Ithaca, New York, which became famous for its delectable vegetarian entrees. So naturally, the cookbooks are also vegetarian, and I find myself browsing through them almost like a picture book.
We have a few broccoli plants in the garden. They rarely produce the huge heads you would find in a grocery store, but rather many smaller florets all over the plant. I would say they have a more delicate taste than their commercially grown counterparts – once you cut the florets, its best to use them that same day or else they start to wilt.
Last week I cut some gorgeous broccoli florets from the garden, and I decided to make a quiche. Quiche is one of my go-to entrees because we don’t eat very much meat, so I like having an egg/cheese dish around. I had potatoes from the farmer’s market, and when I saw a recipe for a potato crust in Moosewood Cookbook, I knew I had to try it! The potatoes are grated with some onions, which are then all held together with an egg white and molded into a pie plate. The crust bakes first, and then is filled with your quiche mixture of eggs, cheese, and vegetables. What I love about quiche is that almost any vegetable or cheese will work – cheddar is a standard in our house, but swiss, gruyere, pepper jack, etc would be just as good. I’ve used chard, green chile, spinach, mushrooms… anything you like in your omelette could work! Even ham, sausage, or shredded chicken if you like some extra protein.
My friend Deb gave me the advice to always soak broccoli in salted water before cooking, to get all the little hiding bugs out. I can’t recommend this enough, no matter where your broccoli comes from! Try it and you’ll see what I mean. In terms of the crust, make sure you have thick amount of potatoes along the sides so it doesn’t get too crispy, and cover the edges with aluminum foil so it doesn’t brown too much. The crust was also a little time-consuming, so if you’re pressed for time, use an easier crust recipe (I’ll post an alternate below). And lastly, the recipe called for layering the cheese at the bottom, and then pouring in the eggs/filling. I personally like my cheese mixed in with the eggs, but that is purely up to you.
Broccoli-Cheddar Quiche with Potato Crust
2 cups (packed) grated raw potato
1/4 cup grated onion
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg white, lightly beaten
flour for your fingers
a little oil
Preheat oven to 400F. Oil a 9-inch pie pan. Combine grated potato and onion, salt, and egg white in a small bowl and mix well. Transfer to the pie pan and pat into place with lightly floured fingers, building up the sides (make sure its relatively thick at the top). Cover the edges with aluminum foil. Bake for 30 minutes, then brush the crust with a little oil and bake it for 10 more minutes. Remove from the oven, and turn the temperature down to 375.
Filling (prepare while the crust bakes):
1 to 1 1/2 cups shredded cheese (Cheddar or up to you)
~ 1 large stalk Broccoli, chopped and sauteed with garlic
1 cup milk
Put a thin layer of cheese on the crust. Distribute broccoli over the cheese. Beat together eggs and milk. Add the rest of the cheese to the egg mixture, and then pour over the broccoli. Sprinkle the top with paprika, and bake at 375 for 35-40 minutes, or until firm.
Alternate oat crust recipe, from Cooking Light:
1 cup oats
1/3 cup oat bran
2 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
3 tablespoons cold water
Combine oats and oat bran; cut in butter with a pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add water; stir just until moist. Press mixture gently into a ball on wax paper, and cover with additional wax paper. Roll dough, still covered, into a 10-inch circle.
Remove 1 sheet of wax paper, and fit dough into a 9-inch pie plate coated with olive oil. Remove top sheet of wax paper. Bake at 375° for 7 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.