There comes a certain time of the year, a time when you have to travel for the holidays but realize that--lacking foresight--you bought an unreasonable amount of vegetables that will not last in your refrigerator for a week. Drats.
So, I thought I would share one of my favorite "fridge-clearing" recipes with you.
Zucchini, Bacon and Gruyere Quiche (adapted recipe from Epicurious)
1 (9-inch) refrigerated pie dough round (from a 15-oz package)
1/4 lb sliced bacon, coarsely chopped
2 medium zucchini (3/4 lb total), halved lengthwise, then cut crosswise into 1/8-inch-thick slices
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup whole milk
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3 large eggs
2 oz Gruyère, coarsely grated (1 cup)
My notes on the ingredients:
I omitted heavy cream and instead doubled the amount of whole milk. I thought the consistency turned out great, and the overall recipe was slightly healthier than it would have been had I used the cream.
You could easily swap out the type of meat and veggies you use. I've made variations on this recipe with yellow squash, caramelized onions, mushrooms, Canadian bacon, or even entirely without bacon. Like I said, it's a good fridge cleaning option...between the buttery pie dough and the cheese, almost anything would taste good thrown into this dish.
Yes, there are only 3 eggs. I know that doesn't seem like enough. Trust me, it is. See my note below re: this is a really full quiche and you will probably spill it.
A note on cheese--I was disappointed at how expensive Gruyere cheese was at my local Safeway. The first time I made this recipe, I think I paid a whopping $7 or $8 for cheese alone. You can, it should be said, use another kind of less expensive cheese (especially if you dislike Gruyere). But I actually had good results finding cheap cheese while perusing my local Whole Foods, shockingly enough. If you can take the time to brave their monumental lines, I'd highly recommend it. I was able to pay only $3.50 for arguably better quality Gruyere, in part because the recipe calls for so little (1 cup).
And Now, the Recipe:
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 450°F.
Fit pie dough into pie plate and lightly prick all over. Bake according to package instructions, then transfer crust in pie plate to a rack.
Reduce oven temperature to 350°F.
While crust bakes, cook bacon in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until just crisp, about 6 minutes. Transfer bacon with a slotted spoon to a paper-towel-lined plate, reserving fat in skillet.
Add zucchini and 1/4 teaspoon salt to fat in skillet and sauté over moderately high heat, stirring frequently, until zucchini is tender and starting to brown, about 5 minutes, then transfer with slotted spoon to a plate.
Heat cream, milk, pepper, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt in a 1- to 2-quart saucepan until mixture reaches a bare simmer, then remove from heat.
Whisk together eggs in a large heatproof bowl, then gradually whisk in hot cream mixture until combined. Stir in bacon, zucchini, and cheese and pour into pie crust. Bake until filling is just set, 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer quiche in pan to rack to cool slightly, about 20 minutes.
My notes on the recipe:
There was a decent amount of debate on the discussion board at Epicurious re: pre-baking or blind-baking the crust. Trust me--bake it slightly first. I've tried both ways, and if you haven't pre-baked it for a few minutes it will end up soggy. I once cooked the quiche for an extra 30-minutes in an attempt to firm up the soggy crust, but to no avail.
The recipe above instructs you to mix the zucchini and bacon into the egg/cheese mixture. When I tried this, it was sort of a disaster. I have have much better results putting the solid ingredients into the crust and pouring the egg and cheese mixture over them. Disclaimer...you won't end up with a nice strata of ingredients, but there is so much less mess. If you really want the strata, maybe try mixing half the solid ingredients into the egg and cheese mixture, and arranging half in the crust before pouring.
Before you pour the egg and cheese mixture, examine the perimeter of your crust and reinforce as needed. Trust me. There is nothing worse than pouring in your egg and cheese mixture only to find that one edge of your crust is compromised and you're trying to put your fingers in the dyke before egg spills out onto your entire counter top. And then you're wondering whether those Seventh Generation cleaning productions you purchased in a fit of greenness will kill salmonella...
NB: This recipe makes for a pretty full quiche. You should pour the mixture in when the crust is as close as possible to your oven, to prevent a precarious transfer from counter top to oven. See note above re: spilling egg all over your counter top.
Finally, a very important thing to emphasize. Let the quiche sit for at least 20 minutes, per the recipe, before you cut it. It will be baked all the way through, but it needs some time to set. Like with scrambled eggs, the egg mixture is still firming up even after you've removed it from the heat. If you cut it too soon, some eggy veggie juice will seep out while you're not looking and form a film where the removed piece once lay. Not only does it look marginally unappetizing, but you just dried out the remaining quiche. Fail.