This may seem like an odd name for a recipe, but it comes from Barbara Kingsolver’s excellent book, Animal, Vegetable, Mineral: A Year of Food Life. In it she describes a winter of relying on root vegetables and home-grown canned goods, so the first green shoots to emerge from the earth in the spring were pounced upon by her family. The minerals contained in these new shoots were believed to provide renewed vigor and energy for bodies tired of being cooped up all winter.
This recipe uses fresh young asparagus but if you’re in an area where fiddleheads** are available they would be a wonderful replacement for the asparagus. The quantity of the recipe is designed to fit into a 9″ or 10″ pie pan. If you’re using a shallower quiche pan use 3 eggs and cut back the buttermilk to 3/4 cup.
The buttermilk called for in this recipe gives the custard a “tang” that is typical of buttermilk. If you prefer a more traditional flavored filling you may use regular milk instead with equally good results. This quiche cuts and hold its shape vey well especially it you let it rest for about 15 minutes before serving as the recipe suggests.
SPRING TONIC (ASPARAGUS ) QUICHE
Yield: 8 slices
- 1 single recipe pie dough, or use 1/2 package refrigerator pie dough
- 2 1/2 cup asparagus spears or fiddleheads, bias sliced into 1/2″ pieces
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh chives
- 1 1/2 cup grated cheese ( your choice, but Swiss, Parmesan and/or Asiago are good)
- 3 to 4 four large eggs
- 3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1. Preheat the oven to 425*F. Line a 9 or 10-inch pie pan or 10-inch quiche pan with the pastry. Chill the lined dish while the oven comes up to temperature. This will minimize shrinking while it bakes.
2. Bake the chilled crust for 10 minutes; remove from the oven and reduce the temperature to 375*.
3. For the Filling: Spread the sliced asparagus over the crust. Place the tips around the outside edge for a nice effect. Sprinkle the chives and cheese on top.
Whisk together the eggs, flour, buttermilk, and Worcestershire and pour over the vegetables and cheese.
4. Place the dish on a baking sheet to catch any spills and bake for 40 – 45 minutes, until the custard is firm 3″ in from the edge and a knife inserted in that spot comes out clean. Remove from the oven and cool for 15 minutes before slicing.
**A note about fiddleheads: These are the tops of ostrich ferns, and they appear in shady woodland spots in early May. They look like green, fuzzy bumps; below the brown stalks of last year’s growth.
They emerge tightly curled and covered in a brown, scaly papery covering. They can easily be snapped off when they are no more than 3 or 4 inches high. To clean them, wash well and remove the papery covering. Cook in boiling salted water until you can just pierce them with a fork. Drain and rinse and treat them as you would asparagus.
SOURCE: The Baking Sheet, King Arthur Flour.