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April 8, 2010

Grated or shredded cheese (Recipe: red pepper, asparagus and spinach quiche) {vegetarian}

Red pepper and spinach quiche

Everything I know about cooking I learned from Julia Child.

Watching The French Chef when I should have been doing homework for my college classes, I learned how to debone a chicken while leaving the skin intact (did it once, never again), and how to turn pate a choux balls into a croquembouche (did it once, never again), and how to buy socca at a market in Nice, should I be lucky enough to get there some day.

Julia was not all about the esoteric, though.

In one of her more recent series, I watched her take a container of shredded cheese out of the freezer. Cheese in the freezer? All different types, mixed together?

As Julia would have said... voila!

Now, just like she did, I keep a container of bits of grated or shredded cheese, left over from whatever frittata or pasta dishes I've made, in the freezer, ready and waiting to fill quesadillas or lasagne, or an impromptu weeknight quiche. Store like-minded cheeses together, and you'll be ready for whatever culinary inspiration strikes you.

What is grated or shredded cheese?
Medium-firm (Cheddar, Gruyere, fontina, havarti) or firm (Parmigiano-Reggiano, romano) broken down into small bits with a box grater or food processor. Soft cheese (blues, muenster) should be minced in a food processor or by hand. A Microplane rasp makes quick work of small amounts of parm.

How/where to store:
In a tightly-sealed container or ziploc bag in the refrigerator (up to one week) or freezer (up to three months). To create your own mix, store cheeses of similar texture together.

More facts about grated or shredded cheese, with ingredient photos, on The Perfect Pantry:
Grated or shredded cheese (Recipe: zucchini frittata)

Red pepper and spinach quiche

Red pepper, asparagus and spinach quiche

One great thing about using store-bought pie crust for quiche is that the package holds two crusts, so after you've made one, it's easy to make another with whatever bits of vegetables and shredded cheese you have on hand. Serves 6.

Ingredients

1 refrigerated pie crust, or homemade pie crust for a single-crust pie
2 tsp olive oil
1 small onion, diced
10 thin asparagus spears, ends trimmed, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1/2 medium red bell pepper, seeded, ribs removed, diced
3 oz baby spinach leaves
1/2 tsp dried thyme leaf or 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves or flat-leaf parsley
4 eggs + 1 egg
2 Tbsp Greek yogurt
1/4 cup grated Gruyere cheese
2 Tbsp grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp fresh black pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Unroll one pie crust (for a 9-inch pie) and center it in a pie plate. (I used a standard Pyrex® pie plate.) Crimp the edges by hand, or press a design all around with a fork. Set aside.

In a nonstick frying pan, heat the olive oil over low-medium heat. Add the onion, asparagus, and red pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5-6 minutes until the onions are translucent. Add the spinach and thyme, stir to combine, and cook for 2 minutes, until the spinach is wilted. Remove pan from the heat and set aside to cool for at least 15 minutes. (This step is important; if the filling is too hot, it will melt the pastry before the quiche gets to the oven. The filling also can be made in advance and refrigerated.)

In a large measuring cup or bowl, whisk 4 eggs until they are smooth. Add the yogurt, and whisk again. Stir in the two cheeses, salt and pepper.

Scatter the vegetable filling evenly in the pie crust. Pour the egg mixture over the top. Push it around with a rubber spatula so it covers all of the vegetables.

In a small bowl, beat 1 egg with 1 teaspoon of water. Using a brush, paint the crust with the beaten egg.

Bake for 40 minutes. Let sit at room temperature for 10 minutes before serving. Serve warm, at room temperature, or cold.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]


More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:
Asparagus, mushroom and sausage quiche
One-bite vegetable quiche
Frittata ring
Italian style omelet appetizer
Oven-baked tortilla Española

Other recipes that use grated or shredded cheese:
Gougeres, from David Lebovitz
Baked macaroni and cheese, from Gluten-free Goddess
Chile con queso, from Homesick Texan
Grilled cheese panini on dark rye, from Panini Happy
Ham and cheese empanadas, from From Argentina with Love

Comments

Thank you for channeling Julia. When I think of all the bits of cheese that turned into blue slime that I could have enjoyed! And the convenience. Now cheese shreds will join pepper slices in my freezer to be put to good use.
and I too made the croquembouche once, for a New Year's Day brunch in about 1968, along with Boeuf a la mode en gelee: stayed up all night getting the sliced layers to set in the gel. Never again! but good memories.

Lydia, the mosaic of veggies and the colours are very appetizing....love it!

This is so good to know; normally I am scrambling to use cheeses before they get moldy. The quiche looks delicious!

This is such a great idea to freeze left-over bits. I do it with other things, but just haven't gotten in the habit with cheese.

The quiche looks delicious.I always end up throwing away leftover cheese so I thank you for that tidbit of info.

Lydia,
Thanks for using the refrigerated pie crusts ;). As much as I cook and as much as I love to cook, I cannot make a decent pie crust to save my soul, so i have resorted to the "cold" ones for years. I feel much better about it now!

Thank you for the cheese facts. Excellent recipe, this quiche looks awesome.

Have a blessed day.

Besides the recipes you made once, I'd love to hear about any Julia Child recipes that became your standard way to make some dish. My Julia repeat favorites include her leg of lamb with mustard sauce and her French onion soup, among others. She was a great leader for new cooks!

best...maefood.blogspot.com

Lydia, I love each and every ingredient in that quiche - looks delish!

Your blog looks beautiful, my friend.

It's a great idea to shred the cheese and add it to the freezer for all kinds of dishes. Great tip!

That quiche looks quite inviting! I have always been hesitant to freeze cheese, but I'm going to bookmark this page and start to experiment a bit.

I love this quiche combination (and I could make it South Beach friendly just by baking without a crust!

The quiche recipe looks great - although I might sub zucchini or another vegetable for the asparagus. Not a fan of asparagus.
I must be on a quiche roll - made two Sunday for a dinner with friends on Monday, the Crescent Zucchini Pie and a Chicken quiche. I had forgotten how much I like quiche!

What leftover cheese? :-)
(that concept doesn't even exist in my world...and that is probably why I have to keep my gym membership!)

Cheese in the freezer? Wow. So great to know. I am most defintely going to try this!

Susan, I think we were leading parallel lives!

Peter, Mari: this quiche was a big hit with my eight-year-old granddaughter. I think she liked the colors as much as the taste.

Nupur, Julia, Daryl, Val, TW, Donna: yes, freeze your cheese leftovers! We make quesadillas a lot around here, especially for quick worknight dinners, and having pre-grated cheese makes that so easy. Julia Child was fearless!

Janet, same with me. I'm not even sure that I can't make good pie crust, but I know that I don't make it, so without the refrigerated crusts, I would never make anything pie-like. I'm okay with that.

Mae, I've written about some of my favorite Julia recipes, but many of the dishes I like are not ones from Mastering the Art. I find that, even more than the recipes, her techniques are what stay with me.

Patricia, obrigada!

Kalyn, absolutely -- I love crustless quiche and make it even more often than the versions with crust. I really like the Greek yogurt in this to replace heavy cream, too.

Teresa, this will work with most any combination of vegetables. Try broccoli and mushrooms (a favorite combo), or onions and green beans.

Carol, I'm giggling.

This quiche looks wonderfully delicious!

I have never frozen leftover shredded cheese. My family tends to eat it up fast, but there are times when the dreaded green color presents itself when I open the bag of preshredded cheese. I'll freeze some next time I have any left over. Great tips, as usual!

I'm a cheese freezer, and this post reminds me I'm in good company :)

The quiche is mouthwatering, and while perfect for weekend mornings (or weeknight dinners), it's also well suited for December brunches with that delicious display of red & green. Yum!

Made this night before last and it was awesome!!! Of course I changed a few things (always do that..and then have to ask..is it really the same recipe...LOL).

First of all I used frozen asparagus because for us, without access to home grown, frozen is always top quality vs. what's available in the grocery store. Instead of fresh spinach I used frozen CREAMED spinach (which I use often) and omitted the yogurt. Lastly I used an Italian cheese mix. I make my own crusts..have circles of dough in my freezer all the time.

We loved, loved, loved it! Next time I will use a stronger cheese and add a couple more eggs. I will definitely make this again and again. Thanks for sharing!

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  • My name is Lydia Walshin. From my log house kitchen in rural northwest Rhode Island, I share recipes that use what we keep in our pantries, the usual and not-so-usual ingredients that spice up our lives.

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