Asparagus Quiche: It’s what’s for dinner

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If you ask me, quiche is perfect anytime of day and for any occasion. It makes a lovely breakfast, especially for a crowd, but it also makes an incredible dinner. Serve it with a light salad for a complete meal.

This asparagus quiche recipe would be a great addition to any Easter menu, too, which is only a few weeks away. You can easily make it ahead of time and pop it into the oven before heading out the door or before people arrive! There’s nothing better than a simple dish that packs a lot of punch. Enjoy this seasonal spring dish!

Asparagus Quiche
Makes 1- 8″ round Quiche serves 8-10
For the filling you will need:

– 1/2 lb. fresh asparagus
– 8 eggs
– 1 cup shredded mozzarella
– 1 cup half and half
– 1/2 teaspoon salt


To prepare:

In a large bowl whisk eggs and cream and cheese and salt. Reserve 5 spears of asparagus for the top of the quiche. Cut the remainder into 1/2 inch pieces and add to the egg mixture. Combine and set aside make the crust.

For the crust you will need:

– 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
– 1 stick of butter chilled and cut into 1/2 cubes
– 1/4 cup chilled water
– 1/2 teaspoon salt

To prepare:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In the bowl of a standing mixer, place the flour and the butter and salt. Using the paddle attachment on medium speed, combine the butter and flour until it resembles pebble size crumbs. Next add water until mixture comes together into a ball. *(note you may need to add more water to combine)

Roll the ball of dough out on a floured board into a 10″ disk about 1/8 thick. Place into an 8 inch ceramic quiche pan. With a paring knife, cut the overhanging dough edge around the perimeter of the dish so there is a clean edge all the way around. Use the excess dough you cut off the edge to make the make the decorative scallop border. Use a 1 inch round scallop cutter, place the scallop rounds on the edge of the shell, over-lapping all the way around the outer edge.

Once you have finished the decorative edge, place the egg mixture into the shell. Add the reserved whole asparagus spears on top and place into the oven. Bake for 60 minutes at 350 degrees F.

Photographs by: Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn

Prop and food styling by: Me

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Vegetable Chermoula Soup

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I love making soup, especially during winter (and yes, it’s winter. Spring doesn’t start until March 19!). This vegetable chermoula soup is very hearty. The white beans and faro make it completely satisfying while the chermoula takes it over the edge in flavor. I put chermoula, a garlicky, herby sauce, on everything. It’s divine.

This recipe was taken from my cookbook, Picture Perfect Parties. I know when people think of parties, they tend to think of really decadent food, but there are actually many healthy recipes in my book. People want to leave full and satisfied, and belly-warming soup is a great way to achieve just that.

Vegetable Chermoula Soup
Serves 8

You will need:

– 2 garlic cloves minced
– 1/2 medium onion
– 1 cup diced carrot
– 1/2 cup diced celery
– 1/4 cup olive oil
– 1 cup diced zucchini
– 1 cup diced sweet potato
– 1/2 cup red peppers *optional
– 2 cups chopped kale
– 8 cups vegetable stock + water as needed
– 1 can white beans or 1 cup soaked overnight, then rinsed
– 1 cup farro
– 2 tablespoons chopped rosemary
– 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
– salt and pepper

To prepare:

In a large stockpot, saute garlic, onion, carrots and celery in olive oil, over medium heat until tender.
Add the vegetables and saute for 2 minutes. Next add stock, beans and water if needed, salt and pepper and chopped herbs. Simmer for 3 hours and add faro for the last 30 minutes.

Charmoula
You will need:

– 1 cup fresh Italian parsley
– 1 cup fresh cilantro
– 2 inch piece of ginger
– 3 cloves of garlic
– Juice of 1 lemon
– 1 cup of oil
– salt and pepper
– 2 teaspoons coriander seeds

To prepare:

In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, add all ingredients and pulse until it forms a loose smooth sauce, about 1 minute.

 

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Butternut Squash Soup

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One of my favorite ways to make sure I’m getting all of the vegetables I need is making a big pot of soup, especially in the winter when days are short and often dreary. This time of year, butternut squash is prevalent in markets and grocery stores. You can even buy it already cubed! Scoop up some squash on your next trip to the store, and create this lovely, vegetable dense, soup. It’s a crowd pleaser for the entire family!

Butternut Squash Soup
Serves 8

You will need:

– 1 cup cubed butternut squash
– 1 cup rough chopped yellow onion
– 1 cup cubed carrots
– 1 cup cubed celery
– 1 cup cubed parsnips
– 1/2 cup cubed baby red potatoes
– 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
– 2 cups kale, shredded
– 1/4 cup olive oil
– 1 15 oz can of white beans
– 1 quart organic vegetable stock
– salt and pepper

To prepare:

Peel and cube squash, onion, carrots, celery, parsnips, and red potato into 1-inch cubes.

Put the vegetables in a heavy cast iron pot, except the kale and white beans.

Saute all the vegetables in the olive oil until the vegetables are soft and the onion is translucent  (about 15 minutes). Then add the kale, beans and stock, and stir until blended.  Season mixture with salt and pepper.

Simmer on low heat for 1.5 hours.

To serve:

Serve this soup with crusty bread and a spinach, apple, walnut salad with blue cheese crumbles and balsamic vinaigrette.

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Go Green with Arugula Ice Cream

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Does it sound too good to be true? It’s not! Today I am sharing a recipe by our workshop chef, Chef Philip Meeker. It’s one of his specialties, arugula ice cream. This dessert is the perfect way to get in some greens while giving in ever so slightly to your sweet tooth.

Arugula Ice Cream or in Italian, Gelato di Rucola

Chef Philip says, “This time of year there’s a lot of fresh arugula at the market. Buying it from the farmer is a totally different experience than getting it at the store. The nutty and peppery flavors that you get from farm-fresh arugula are as striking as any herb which to me is a great indication that it would go well in a gelato just like rosemary or basil would. But what to pair the gelato with depends on whether you use cane sugar or glucose to make it. If you use glucose, the sweetness will be so minimal that you can use it in salad, like a carpaccio di fragole (a.k.a thinly sliced strawberries) with balsamic, fresh arugula and olive oil. And don’t worry: while glucose may sound fancy and hard to get, the light corn syrup you use for pecan pie is mostly glucose.”

Arugula Ice Cream

You will need:
– 1 ¼ cups heavy cream
– ¾ cups whole milk
– 1 ½  cups sugar (or glucose or light corn syrup)
– ¼ cup cornstarch
– 3 cups puréed arugula (about 3-4 bunches of field arugula)
– pinch of salt plus salt for boiling arugula
Note: There is no acid in this recipe because it will destroy the green color

Blanching and Puréeing Arugula:

Prepare a bowl of heavily iced water. This will be used to immediately cool down the arugula after it cooks. Bring a saucepan full of water to a boil. Salt the water lightly. Throw in the arugula and let it cook for three to five seconds. Remove it from the boiling water and immediately plunge it into the ice water. As soon as the arugula becomes ice cold, about 20 seconds, put it into a blender. Don’t worry too much about water that stays with the arugula as it goes into the blender. This will help the arugula blend into a smooth purée. Add a couple of ice cubes to the blender before starting to ensure the arugula won’t heat while blending which will allow the beautiful green colors to be , preserved. As you blend the arugula to a purée, add water and ice to the blender as needed to ensure the arugula has enough liquid to blend. Store the arugula purée in the fridge until you are ready to add it to the ice cream mix. Keeping it cool will ensure that its color will stay green and that the flavor won’t weaken.

Making Ice Cream Base:

To make the base of the ice cream, heat ½ cup of the whole milk plus the heavy cream in a small saucepan on high heat along with 1 cup of the sugar. Stir occasionally to make sure that it doesn’t stick to the bottom. In a bowl, mix together the remaining sugar and cornstarch with a whisk (mixing these two ingredients together ahead of time helps avoid lumps). Mix in the remaining milk.

When the dairy-sugar mix in the saucepan comes to a boil, mix a little of it in with the cornstarch mix. Then pour the entire contents of the bowl into the pot. Put it back over high heat. Mix it slowly while it comes to a boil. When the contents of the pot boil, mix it rapidly, carefully scraping the bottom to avoid scorching. The mixture needs to boil for 1-2 minutes until it lacks a starch taste.

Afterward, pour the mix into a sealed container, and store in the fridge to cool down.

Once cool, whisk the arugula into the dairy mix along with the salt. Spin in an ice cream maker to make ice cream.

*Tip: Make sure the arugula mix has enough salt in it to make it have maximum sweetness but not enough to make it taste salty instead of sweet. You do this by adding salt to the mix, little by little, tasting as you go. It will bring out the nutty, peppery flavor of the arugula.

*Suggestion: Create new flavor profiles by using other herb purées, such as parsley, mint, or tarragon. If a herb seems like it might lack flavor, steep the herb in the dairy mix after the dairy mix comes off the heat. Remove the steeped herb before it starts to turn color to something dead looking. I generally do a five-minute infusion.

Grazie mille, Chef Philip!

xx

Photo credit: Philip Meeker

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Fresh Artichoke Salad

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This recipe for fresh artichoke salad is zesty and delicious. I also love how surprising the ingredients are. It makes an excellent side for Juice January, and more details about the salad and its origins can be found in my book, Cocktail Italiano! Tip: make sure that the artichokes are very fresh and tender.

Roberto’s Fresh Artichoke Salad
Serves 8

You will need:
– 2 pounds (about 20) tender baby artichokes Note: you may substitute the interior soft leaves and heart of larger artichokes, but do not use the tough outer leaves
– 2 lemons, halved
– 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
– 1 to 1 ½ teaspoons salt
– 2 ounces Parmesan

To prepare:

Trim away any tough outer leaves of the artichokes to expose their tender pale green interior. Using a knife with a serrated blade, cut off the spiky top 1/3 of the artichokes. (Note: baby artichokes will not have the spikes.) Use a vegetable peeler to remove the tough outer layers around the base and stem.

Using a mandolin, slice the artichokes paper-thin and transfer to a medium bowl.

Squeeze the lemon halves over the artichokes, and toss with the oil. Sprinkle with salt, and use a potato peeler to shave the Parmesan over the salad. Serve in small bowls.

 

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