I had meant to make something more glamorous than a quiche. After all, a quiche is really just a convenient vehicle for the forgotten odds and ends in the crisper and the last half a dozen eggs.
I had intended on making something special for our queen bee…for the woman who has:
- Sponsored more grocery trips than either of us would care to count
- Moonlighted as an on-call therapist, a thrifty travel agent, a gifted interior decorator, a compassionate nurse, and a skilled personal shopper
- Passed on her love of books [and compact cozy chairs that hug you when you sit down]
- Commiserated about the annual nightmare that is the hunt for jean shorts
- Shouldered more than her fair share of my worries [both big and small]
- Gone above and beyond her job description for 22.5 years [without a rumor of a raise or a possibility of a promotion]
But I couldn’t find a recipe with enough stars to say thank you for those things, and for the hundred more that can’t be voiced.
And so I took the advice I knew she would give: start with the simples and add butter, then supplement with a few somethings fun.
Today the basics looked like speckled brown eggs, salty cheddar cheese, palm-sized shallots, and cocktail tomatoes still on the vine.
The somethings fun were preceded by the somethings healthy, because…well, because I’m still not very good at quieting my But This is Terrifically Unhealthy voice. You can blame that voice for the insertion of the word “crustless” before “quiche.” Kale and Swiss chard help to tell that voice to pipe down over there.
Luckily, bacon speaks to me too. Twice-smoked bacon, to be specific. Even an unsightly slab of the stuff makes my taste buds turn cartwheels. I’m just going to put this out there: If you’re on a diet that doesn’t allow for something bacon-studded every now and then, you’re on the wrong diet.
Ramps address the part of me that gets a little thrill from cooking with something grown locally. My mom taught me about this little thrill. I taught her about ramps, which are wild onions that look like slender scallions and taste like roasted garlic cloves.
This morning she taught me how to tell when a quiche is done, and then we split it down the middle and talked right through brunch into lunch.
When this quiche comes out of the oven, you’ll know immediately which ingredients are going to sing: the garlicky ramps and shallots, the blistered tomatoes, the pungent greens, the smoky and salty bacon.
If you concentrate really hard, you might catch a trace of the red pepper flakes and the whole grain mustard, but the bacon flavor is the dominant one. Popular wisdom has it that everything is better with bacon, and popular wisdom is right. This quiche is fabulous [and half of it won’t end up stuck in the pan].
It’s worth snipping a few garlic chives on top at the last minute, should you have a mama who gardens in addition to everything else. It is also so, so worth steering clear of all the ways you can think of to make it healthier. Let Greek yogurt be the magical ingredient in the next dish you make.
Recipe [Serves Two]
¼ cup smoked bacon, sliced [buy “ends” if you can; they’re about $3/lb. cheaper]
½ tablespoon butter
1 large shallot, diced
3 stalks kale, stem removed
3 stalks Swiss chard, stem removed
8 small tomatoes, half cut into quarters and half left with stem attached [for presentation]
3 ramps, diced [greens included]
2 oz. aged mature sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
½ tablespoon whole grain mustard
½ teaspoon garlic powder
Pinch red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Add sliced bacon to a 7-inch cast iron skillet over medium heat.
Cook until brown and crispy on both sides.
Place bacon pieces on a paper towel and let grease absorb. Dice and set aside.
Drain grease from skillet [actually attempt to wipe it out].
Add butter to skillet and return to stovetop.
Add diced shallots, salt, and pepper. Cook until translucent [about 2-3 minutes].
Add de-stemmed kale and Swiss chard to skillet; cook down.
Add quartered tomatoes off the vine and diced ramps along with mustard, garlic powder, and red pepper flakes.
Stir ingredients together, cook for an additional minute or two, and remove from heat.
Add diced bacon to skillet and stir again; set aside.
In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the eggs and cheddar cheese until well combined [you should see a few air bubbles and it should begin to look frothy].
Pour the egg mixture into the skillet with the vegetables, bacon, and spices.
Add additional salt and pepper.
Top with the reserved tomatoes on the vine.*
Place cast-iron skillet directly in the oven; bake until golden brown or until the eggs are completely set [about 20-22 minutes].
Allow quiche to cool slightly before slicing.
Garnish with fresh herbs as desired.
*In order to make sure the [rather large] tomatoes on the vine cook all the way through, cut them in half horizontally and nestle the cut surfaces down into the egg before baking. Use the remaining halves in the quiche or save them for something else.
Recipe Adapted from Linda Wagner