I believe that everyone should know how to make a simple, basic quiche that they can customise to use whatever produce is in season. It’s a great dish to make at gatherings, or for summer lunches/dinners when hot food seems to be the absolute last thing you want to eat. I really love making quiches – or savoury tarts – to take to a nice outdoor spot when the weather is warm and have it as a picnic along with a salad or nothing at all. They also make pretty fantastic leftovers to have for breakfast the next day!
While people do seem to be intimidated by making pastry from scratch, and understandably so, I really think that once you get the hang of it, it feels like second nature to make and becomes a wonderfully trusty staple that you’ll keep resorting to over and over again whenever you want to entertain or make something to take to a dish party.
This is the reason I felt I wanted to demonstrate how attainable pastry making is during my little cooking class that I gave during my event a few weeks ago at Makar Farms. I mean, if I can manage to make shortcrust pastry completely by hand, outdoors in 43C degree heat and in front of a large audience, I think it’s prettyyy safe to say anyone can! Talk about a perfect anxiety-inducing situation, hey?
I just love how endless the filling options are for savoury tarts; from simple cheese and herbs, to roast veggies, caramelised onions, cooked chicken or cold cured meats and wilted greens. There’s a savoury tart to match every single taste, and they are perfect for repurposing leftovers or just highlighting whatever vegetables happen to be in season.
You can read more about the event and find more recipes from the day here.
Basic Quiche with Vegetables, Cheese & Herbs
FOR THE PASTRY:
- 125 g plain flour
- 100 g whole wheat flour
- 1/2 tbsp salt
- 125 g cold unsalted butter cut into cubes
- 60 ml cold water
FOR THE FILLING:
- 5 eggs
- 140 ml cream
- 100 ml milk
- 40 g finely grated gruyere/cheddar/parmesan, plus extra for the top
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh chives or tarragon or parsley
- 1/2 tbsp salt
- pepper to taste
CUSTOMISABLE EXTRAS (pick 2-3)
- 150 g goat cheese OR ricotta cheese OR firm labneh
- 200 g baby spinach other similar greens, blanched, drained well & finely chopped
- 150 g cherry tomatoes or chopped sun-dried tomatoes
- caramelised onions or leeks
- cooked vegetables like; roast pumpkin/zucchini/carrots, sautéed mushrooms, steamed broccoli
- cooked shredded chicken or cold cured meats like smoked turkey/salami
- fresh zucchini flowers
- MAKE THE PASTRY: Place the flours & salt in a food processor and process till evenly mixed. Add the cold butter (I like to keep mine in the freezer after cutting it, until right before I need to use it) until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. With the motor running, add the cold water and process for a few short seconds, just until the dough begins to form around the blade. Tip the dough out onto some plastic wrap, flatten into a round disk and wrap it tightly, then refrigerate it for 30 minutes. At this point, you could store it in the fridge for up to 2 days, or freeze it for up to 3 months; just defrost in the fridge overnight before using.
- Have a 25-28cm tart tin ready nearby. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured bench; you may need to bang it a few times with your rolling pin if it is a bit too hard. Roll the dough out into a roughly round shape until it is about 3mm thick (you want it about 5 cm larger than your tart tin), sprinkling with flour as needed. Try to work quickly to avoid the pastry getting too soft, especially if the weather is warm. Transfer the pastry using your rolling pin to the tart tin, and gently tuck it into the tin so that it sits comfortably into the corners and covers the entire base. Don’t worry if it tears; you can use scraps of dough to patch it up. Cover the whole tart tin with plastic wrap & refrigerate (or preferably freeze if you have space in your freezer) for 15-20 minutes.
- BLIND-BAKE THE PASTRY: Preheat oven to 200 degrees C (390F). Take out your tart tin from the fridge/freezer and trim the edges with a knife (or use your rolling pin!). Prick the base of the pastry with a fork, then line with baking paper and fill with baking weights. You could use any dried beans or legumes or grains as baking weights. Bake for 15 minutes, then remove the baking weights and baking paper, and bake for a further 10-15 minutes, until pastry is light golden, Set aside to cool (once cooled completely, use right away or wrap with plastic and store at room temperature for up to 2 days). Reduce oven to 175 C.
- MAKE THE FILLING & ASSEMBLE THE TART: In a bowl or large jug, whisk together the eggs, cream, milk, grated cheese, salt & pepper very well until smooth and uniform. Set aside.
- Arrange the extra fillings evenly on the pastry base; you could pick any combination you like. Pour the egg mixture over the fillings & sprinkle the surface with a little extra grated cheese, then bake the tart in the oven for 30-40 minutes, until golden & set, but slightly jiggly in the centre. Allow to cool for at least 15 minutes before serving, but the tart is best served at room temperature.
Tart recipe adapted from Belinda Jefferey