Spinach quiche: a miracle in the making

If spinach makes you think of gray-green glop served from a can… or the sad-looking stuff the lunch ladies would plop onto your plate in elementary school, exuding a disgusting puddle that you tried in vain to keep away from your mac and cheese… then it’s time for you to update your expectations.

Popeye the Sailor Man used to have to rip open a tin can with his bare hands to enjoy spinach. These days fresh, washed, bagged spinach is universally available. Even better for baking applications, frozen chopped spinach is just as available, and much less expensive: in the store where I shop, about 75¢ for a 10-ounce box, which translates into about a cup of chopped, cooked spinach: the perfect amount for a spinach quiche, a warming lunch, or supper on a cold winter day.

Quiche = piecrust = rolling dough, right? Nope, not this time. Following in the footsteps of Bisquick’s “impossible” pies, this quiche forms its own crust as it bakes. How does it DO that? Got me. It’s been on my “gotta figure it out” list for quite some time now; and one of these days I’ll put on my magic scientist mantle and do it. But for now, I’m satisfied just knowing that I can stir together ALL of the ingredients, scoop them into a pie pan, and an hour later pull out an aromatic spinach-cheese quiche with, yes, a thin, deep-brown bottom/side crust to hold it all together.

In the interest of healthier eating, I’ve filled this quiche with as many lower-calorie, lower-fat ingredients as I can, without compromising its taste or texture. Let’s take a look:

•Spinach and onions, thyme and nutmeg: Veggies, herbs, spices, can’t go wrong there.
•King Arthur white whole wheat flour: Fiber, vitamins, minerals… hooray!
•Nonfat dry milk, part-skim ricotta cheese, egg substitute, low-fat cheese, low-fat yogurt: In this context, all perfectly good stand-ins for their fuller-fat siblings. Feel free to substitute back to the higher-fat, higher-calorie versions, though I honestly don’t think it’s necessary.
•Salt, baking powder, butter or vegetable oil: Tiny quantities, and thus of negligible impact, nutritionally speaking.

OK, are you convinced? Let’s make Miraculous Spinach Quiche. (Miraculous, because it makes spinach taste so darned good. And due to its absolutely effortless self-forming crust.)
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Chop the onions; they don’t have to be in tiny, even pieces.

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Sauté till they’re soft and beginning to brown, then remove from the heat, stir in the thyme and nutmeg, and set aside.

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Next, mix the flour and other dry ingredients with the butter.

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Mix until the butter is mostly integrated, still exhibiting a few larger pieces.

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OK, here’s a good frozen spinach trick. Put the frozen box of spinach on a plate, tear it open to expose it, and microwave on the defrost cycle till it’s mostly thawed. Turn it out of the box onto a paper towel.

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Squeeeeeze the towel till you’ve gotten as much liquid out of the spinach as possible. (Think Popeye; really muscle it.) Be careful, though; it might be hot from the microwave, if you’ve left it in a bit too long.

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Unwrap the towel, and ta-da! Beautifully dry spinach.

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Put the spinach into the bowl on top of the flour mixture, along with the cheeses, onions, seasonings, and eggs. I was out of egg substitute, so used the real thing here.

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Spoon the mixture into a greased 9” pie pan. Take your ruler and measure how tall the pan is: it needs to be at least 1 1/2” tall. Trust me. AT LEAST 1 1/2” tall.

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Dollop the yogurt cheese (drained yogurt) or low-fat sour cream on top…

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…spread it around with a spoon or spatula, and sprinkle with paprika, for color.

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Whoops! Here’s what happens when your pan is only 1 1/4” deep, as mine was here. Live and learn… we make these mistakes so you don’t have to! Notice how I set the pan on a baking sheet, though. I always do this, just in case of spills (like this).

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Ah, beautiful! Even with its overflowing edges.

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Cut, serve, enjoy!

PJ Hamel
About

PJ Hamel was born in Wisconsin, grew up in New England, and graduated from Brown University. She was a journalist in Massachusetts and Maine before joining the King Arthur Flour Company in 1990, where she's been ever since. Author or co-author of three King Arthur ...