Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Quiche: Delicious and Nutritious, and Dairy-Free!

Here's me on the last day of the Naturally Frugal Challenge, squeaking in my big entry at the last minute. But I have a decent excuse, besides the business and travel I've been up to this month! See, the idea of the contest is to come up with an all-natural, in-season entree (no problem there) without using dairy (eeeeep!).

I knew my entry would have to be a pie of some kind. So of course I set myself the ultimate challenge - can I make quiche without milk, including soymilk or almond milk, which might count as processed foods?

My first attempt, while edible and not too bad, was not a winning contest entry. Simply leaving the milk out of the quiche doesn't work, since the milk is what fluffs up the eggs and produces that light, melt-in-your-mouth texture. What did work, on my last attempt, was separating the eggs and beating the whites separately. Air is even lighter than milk, and it will fluff your quiche beautifully with only one extra step!

Also in the first attempt, I tried to make the quiche gluten-free and wholegrain by making a crust out of brown rice and eggs. It was decent, and I could've made it work, but it made the whole dish a bit heavy on the egg front, and to be honest I like a nice pie crust under my quiche. I do make an excellent gluten-free pie crust (the recipe is at my other blog), which has butter, but this time I used my regular whole wheat crust and tried it with coconut oil. It worked beautifully. You use whichever homemade, whole wheat or gluten-free pie crust you like for this one.

The result of all this experimentation was the Ultimate Autumn Quiche. A variety of seasonal ingredients play off each other so that each bite is a unique experience; sometimes it's fruity, sometimes it's warm and toasty, sometimes it's complex and spicy. The ingredients may look sweet, and it does have a pumpkin pie texture to it, but the eggs, spices, nuts, and arugula just perfectly balance the cranberry and apple. I will definitely make this for company at the first opportunity!


1 frozen homemade pie shell
1 cup pumpkin puree
3 eggs, separated
¼ cup natural or homemade applesauce, unsweetened
2 Tbsp nutritional yeast (optional)
1 Tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp Dijon mustard
½ tsp salt
½ tsp ginger
¼ tsp nutmeg
⅛ tsp paprika
1 cup arugula, chopped
½ cup dried cranberries
¼ coarsely-chopped hazelnuts or pecans
1 Tbsp finely-chopped hazelnuts or pecans

Preheat the oven to 400 F. Leave the pie shell in the freezer for now.

Combine the pumpkin, egg yolks, and applesauce in a large mixing bowl and whisk thoroughly to blend. Add the nutritional yeast - you don't have to use it if you can't find it, but it does add a nice cheesy dimension - as well as the maple syrup, mustard, and spices. Whisk again until it's all evenly blended.

One at a time, stir in the arugula, dried cranberries, and coarsely-chopped nuts. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Gently fold into the pumpkin mixture. Retrieve the pie shell from the freezer and carefully pour in the filling; sprinkle the finely-chopped nuts over the top.

Bake at 400 F for 10 minutes, then turn the oven down to 350 F and continue baking another 25-30 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool for at least 15 minutes before serving.

Suggestion: If you have to have meat in your entree, this is an excellent use for leftover Thanksgiving turkey. Just add ½ cup diced turkey when you add the arugula, cranberries, and nuts!

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