Saturday, March 2, 2013

torta d'italia

Welcome to the Italian flag in a quiche, inspired by this torta di spinaci that I once had at La Dolce Via in St. Louis and by the fact that my dad loves Sam's Club (as I've mentioned before) so I had more than 3 dozen eggs in my fridge.
spinach, onion, goat cheese, parmesan, and roasted red pepper quiche in a whole wheat crust.

Now, I just kind of made this up as I went along.  I knew I wanted a savory whole wheat crust, the spinach & onion layer, some goat cheese, and roasted red pepper in a quiche, but I wasn't exactly sure how to do it.  I looked at a few (read: more than I care to count) recipes to get a milk/cream to egg ratio idea for the egg part of this, and then off I went.

Since I kind of just fabricated this as I went along, I didn't bother to take pictures of the process.  I figured that, if I liked it, I'd just share it at a later date.

I had my mom in for lunch yesterday post-exam, though, and we had the leftovers from this little torta.  In her little I'm making a suggestion, but I'll make it sound like a question voice, she asked me if it was on my blog.  So, here it is now.  I'm sure I'll revisit this recipe on the blog with some more process photos and maybe even a few tweaks, but here it is, just for you, Mother.  :  )

for the whole wheat crust (adapted from Martha Stewart)
¾ cup white four
¾ cup whole wheat flour (I used King Arthur)
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup (1 stick) salted butter, cut into small pieces
2 to 5 tablespoons ice water (mix together water and ice in a shallow dish or cup and scoop out of that)

for the spinach & onion layer
2 tablespoons butter
1 onion, diced
1 {9-ounce} bag of spinach

for the goat cheese layer
8 oz goat cheese

for the roasted red pepper layer
1 to 1 ½ roasted red peppers, sliced (click here for a beautiful tutorial on how to roast red peppers; I used 1 ½ of these)

for the egg mixture
6 eggs
1 ½ cups heavy cream
½ cup whole milk
⅓ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon salt
⅛ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon (Urzi's) Italian seasoning


Make the crust.
  1. In a large and shallow mixing bowl, stir together the white flour, wheat flour, and salt.
  2. Using a pastry blender, blend in the small pieces of butter until a coarse meal has formed.
  3. Trickle in 2 tablespoons of the ice water and continue to blend with the pastry blender or your hands until a dough comes together.  If the dough continues to stay "shaggy" looking and doesn't pull together, continue to add water, 1 tablespoon at a time, blending after each addition with the pastry blender or your hands until the dough just comes together.  I used about 5 tablespoons water total.  If you are used to making pie crust, this will not be quite as smooth as the typical kind made with white flour, but it should be pretty smooth.
  4. If your dough has warmed in the process of making it, form it into a disc, wrap it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate while you prepare the other ingredients.
  5. Perhaps because it was so cold in my house (oh, you know, sixty degrees!), I found mine easy to work with immediately after making it, so I rolled it out immediately.  To roll it out for the quiche, flour a work surface and use a rolling pin to roll it into a large, thin circle (about -inch thick.  Using softened butter, grease a 10-inch cast iron skillet.  Lay your crust inside and push it flush against the walls of the skillet.  Trim any edges and fix any bare spots.  I used the entire crust for this.
Make the spinach-onion layer.
  1. In a large skillet, melt 2 tablespoons of butter.
  2. Over medium heat, caramelize the onions until they are soft and golden.
  3. When the onions have caramelized, slowly add in the spinach one or two handfuls at a time, allowing each batch to wilt before adding more.
  4. Drain off any excess liquid before layering into the crust.
Make the egg mixture.
  1. In a large mixing bowl, lightly beat eggs.
  2. Add the heavy cream and milk and lightly beat for one to two minutes.
  3. Sprinkle in salt, pepper, Parmesan cheese, and Italian seasoning.
Assemble and bake the quiche.
  1. After pressing the crust into the skillet, evenly layer the spinach and onion layer across the bottom.
  2. Next, dollop an even layer of goat cheese across the top of the spinach-onion layer.
  3. For the third and final layer, evenly lay the roasted red pepper over the goat cheese layer.
  4. Pour the egg mixture over the fillings of the quiche.  Transfer to an oven preheated to 350 degrees F.  Be very careful, as your skillet will be very full!
  5. Bake at 350 degrees F in the 10 inch cast iron skillet for about 1 ½ hours or until the middle looks set when you shake it/poke a knife in the middle and the top is a golden brown.  Let cool for 15 minutes before serving, or it will not cut prettily (read:  it will still taste good, but any liquid from the fillings will spill out all over the place).
  6. Serve warm.