Spiced Tomato Quiche
Updated: Jan 30
It's the wrong time of year to be thinking about tomatoes, but I think about tomatoes all year round. I have also been enjoying eggs from the ladies at the barn, even though they usually don't lay much in the darkest time of year. Perhaps the unseasonably warm weather we have been having has convinced them to ignore the lack of daylight.
I have not been a fan of quiche. Partly because I am old enough to remember the years of its extreme popularity, and like every popular dish, its inevitable debasement, when it started to turn up everywhere, rubbery, soggy, and bland. And of course it was eventually scorned for being high fat (when everyone was eating carbs) and widely mocked as "gay" (Only in the US can food be gay). James Beard, an early proponent of quiche, was both high fat and gay and he was a king and a walking torch.
My mother, a devotee of Julia Child and James Beard, was in the quiche vanguard of the 1970s, and made delicious Quiche Lorraine, with cheese, cream, and postage stamp-sized pieces of ham. It never occurred to me until this week that 1) quiche is incredibly easy to make and could be dinner on a weeknight, and 2) that it could be made without cream or ham.
I tried to make quiche once before many, many years ago, and the results looked like some kind of unicellar organism that I had to dispose of quickly before it could colonize. I definitely wanted to avoid creating something that involved baking any dairy products. I learned that there are in fact all kinds of quiche, and the Provençal variety is made with tomato sauce. You can make a Mediterranean version of this dish with olives and anchovies, which would be delicious.
You can certainly use a store bought pie crust to save time, but after years of being afraid to make pie crust, I learned that if you don't expect perfection it's quite easy to make. Martha Stewart has a good recipe for paté brisée, which I have reproduced here. (I once met Martha as she arrived at the John Jay Homestead Farmer's Market on horseback, looking down at me from her Friesian to say good morning, which to this day I consider Peak Bedford.) While you are supposed to let the dough chill in the fridge, I actually skipped this and rolled it out very quickly before it got too warm, and while it was less than perfection, I also did not have to wait for dinner.
I am not a baker, so I don't have proper baking tools like pie pans or pie weights. I used dried gigante beans as pie weights to blind bake the crust and baked the quiche in my cast iron skillet and it came out great. You will note that my crusts are not crimped or even or pretty, but this is a weeknight, I am hungry, and don't care. Photos are intended to encourage the timid to just go forth and make pie crusts. They taste fine even if they look terrible.
For the pie crust:
2 1/2 cups of flour
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 sticks of cold butter, cut up in dice-sized pieces
1/2 cup of ice water
3 egg yolks
3 tbps tomato paste
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/2 medium red onion, sliced thin
2 large cloves of garlic, peeled, crushed and finely minced
1 tsp salt
1 28 oz can of tomatoes
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp turmeric
salt and pepper to taste
8-10 quartered cherry tomatoes
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Add flour, sugar, and salt to a food processor, then add the butter cut up in small pieces. Butter should be very cold.
Pulse processor until mixture resembles coarse meal. Running the processor, add cold water in a very thin, continuous stream until dough starts to hang together.
Immediately turn off processor and remove dough onto a floured work surface.
Push and smear the dough with the heel of your hand. Do as little of this as you can get away with, just so dough comes together.
Separate the dough into two balls and the flatten the balls into disks.
Put in the fridge to chill, or roll it out right away and lay in your pie pan or skillet.
Cover the bottom of the crust with pie weights or dried beans.
Blind bake the crust in the oven for ~20 minutes.
While crust is baking, make the filling.
Mix eggs, tomato paste and parsley and set aside.
Heat two tablespoons of olive oil to a frying pan on medium heat.
Add sliced onion and cook until translucent, then add garlic and salt.
When onions and garlic are fully cooked and starting to brown, add spices; stir and cook for a few minutes until thoroughly mixed.
Add tomatoes in their juice and cook on medium-low heat until sauce starts to thicken.
Remove from heat and let cool.
Add sauce to the eggs and pour into half-baked crust. Top with quartered cherry tomatoes.
Bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until filling and crust start to brown.