Crustless Quiche with Bacon, Leeks and Greens

I love quiche. I adore it.

What else (besides perhaps mac & cheese) is as simultaneously sophisticated and homey as quiche? What else is as equally well-suited for entertaining as it is for leftover lunches and tired weeknight dinners, and as un-fussy as to be equally tasty eaten room-temperature as it is warm?

What’s not to love?

dreamy quiche

Quiche is quaint; irresistible (just look at its fat wedge shape!); customizable (leaving you freedom to play with whatever combination of vegetables, herbs and cheese sounds good to you — or whatever you have in the fridge); hearty (and still easily vegetarian, if you want it to be); and finally, er… elaborate. And excessively rich.

Hmm. There’s something not to love.

I mean, who really has time — or counter space — for crust-rolling and blind-baking?? And between the butter in the crust and the cheese and cream (or creme fraiche, or sour cream, etc) in the filling… wow that’s a lot of fat. Meaning: as delicious and dreamy as quiche is, it’s also too much work and far too much fat (at least in my book) to make the move from “occasional treat” to “everyday comestible”.

But wait! That’s not true! I mean, it can be… but it doesn’t have to be.

Allow me to introduce… the crustless quiche.

souffle or quiche?

She’s a beaut, ain’t she?

More than that, this here is the realization of a dream I’ve had for years. A dream of a quiche that is low in fat and high in protein and fiber, but still rich and delicious. A quiche that manages to be light and fluffy and full of flavor while also being stuffed with enough vegetables to make any mother proud.

In short, an ideal quiche.

For a few years I attempted healthier crusts, most of which failed in one area (being healthy) or another (being crust). I also tried using no cream or milk… which essentially resulted in a really dense frittata instead of a quiche. Not bad, really… but not what I was looking for.

This time, in the interests of simplicity, I decided to call a temporary truce with my healthy-crust crusade. After deciding to ditch the crust altogether, I also compromised on a combination of some cream, some milk, some eggs, and some egg whites (thanks to Abbotsford Farms American Humane Certified egg whites), which contributed to an unexpectedly light and wonderfully fluffy consistency.

Finally, with a little help from Alexandra Cooks — which provided a trustworthy (and gorgeously photographed, as always) base recipe that I could tweak and rearrange to my heart’s delight — I finally hit my mark: a naked, crust-less, souffle-like quiche that packs a protein punch while still treating vegetables like the main event rather than a garnish.

Yes: that quiche which, until recently, lived only in my head… now lives in my fridge. I made it yesterday. In an hour and forty minutes from walking in the door to taking it out of the oven.

And so, I am changing my E-descriptors from elaborate and excessively rich — yes, I know that was a bit of a stretch — to easy.

(Yeah, see what I did up there? Clever, huh?)

That’s right: the “e” in quiche now stands  for easy, and extremely edible. On a regular basis. Welcome, my new favorite “everyday comestible”! Hooray for an entire week of quiche!

first slice

Crustless Quiche with Bacon, Leeks and Greens

Serve quiche alongside a sweet and lightly-spiced carrot soup and a slice of crusty bread for a dinner that is simple and lovely, or stuff it in a tupperware with some roast root vegetables or quickly sauteed greens for a delicious, well-balanced lunch. 

  • 1-2 thick slice(s) good bacon (I used roughly 1/6th lb), diced or cubed
  • 1 large leek, washed and thinly sliced (all of it, including the dark green parts. waste not, want not.)
  • 1/2 tbsp butter
  • a few springs of fresh thyme or rosemary (about 1 tsp) and sage (6-8 large leaves), finely minced
  • 2-3 cups or 1 big bunch curly kale (or chard), stems removed and chopped well
  • optional: a handfull of fresh mushrooms (I love Porcini, but given the price-tag, usually opt for Shiitake or Crimini instead), diced
  • 4 good eggs
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt and some fresh-cracked black pepper
  • 3/4 cup egg whites
  • 3/4 cup milk (I used 2%)
  • 1/3 cup cream
  • 1/4 cup grated cheese (I used pecorino sardo)

Preheat oven to 375.

In a deep pan or pot over medium-low heat, saute bacon and leeks in butter for about 8 minutes or until leeks are subdued and golden and bacon has a little color. Add minced herbs and mushrooms (if using) with a dash of kosher salt. Saute another 3-5 minutes until herbs are fragrant and mushrooms have released a little water.

Now throw your greens on top, and season with a dash of salt. Let them sit there and steam for a minute or two, then stir everything together and cook for 2 minutes or until greens are subdued and deeper in color. Turn off heat.

Whisk 1 egg with the 2 tbsp flour, salt and pepper, until frothy. Then add in the remaining 3 eggs, one at a time, whisking after each addition. To this mixture add the egg whites, then milk and cream, and whisk again. Stir in grated cheese.

Butter the inside of a (2 quart? 2 1/2 quart? I’m not sure what I have) souffle dish. Scrape your greens mixture into the souffle dish. Eyeball the amount of greens, the depth of your dish, and the amount of egg liquid you’ve got — and if you think you’ve got to much filling, scoop some out. (I did this, and plan to use the leftover mixture to stuff some mushroom caps or add to pasta later.) You can always push it in later.

Pour the egg/milk/cream mixture over the greens. If you want to add the reserved filling in, do so now, and push it under with the back of a spoon.

Bake at 375 for about 10 minutes, then lower heat to 325 and bake another 25-30 minutes or until barely golden on top (I let my second version you see above in the first two photos brown a teeny bit too much) and just set — in other words, my personal preference is for slightly underdone than overdone. The whole thing should have a little wiggle to it, but not too much.

Mine actually rose and fell like a souffle, giving it that lovely wrinkly layered appearance you see on the edges. I hope yours does too.

A note on the bacon (and meat and money in general): I bought my bacon from Flying Pigs Farm. At roughly $15/lb, it might be considered expensive to some… but not to me. The richness of flavor and the peace of mind (knowing that the pig had a decent life before it ended up in my lunch) are well worth the $13 I spent. Considering the fact I used between 1/6-1/4 lb in a quiche that will provide about four meals, that’s really less than $1 of bacon per meal. (Spending more for a higher quality of meat is much easier to do when you treat meat like a seasoning rather than the main event.)

All in all, taking all the other ingredients into account, I believe the quiche works out to about $4/wedge… which is definitely deserving of a self-pat on the back in my (check)book.

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