Grief and Quiche: A Love Story
My father and I had a tumultuous relationship from the very beginning. My mother chose to wait until the birth of her babies to discover their gender, which made everyone else extremely eager and my father, a giant globule of nerves.
Four years prior to my entrance into the world, my parents had their first tiny human- my brother. They named him after my father as soon as the doctor proclaimed his gender and he felt an instantaneous quietude with the notion of fatherhood, but a girl? She probably won’t ride on the back of his motorcycle and won’t want to crank up his music any louder. She definitely won’t like shooting guns in the hills of Northern California. A girl?
As time transpired, our relationship morphed and then shifted and then morphed again.
It wasn’t until I turned 22 that we discovered we shared a deep affinity for creating really great food together. And after that, we were inseparable.
My father was truly a purposeful cultivator of moments. He would roll down the car windows just enough to let a scant breeze in, turn up the right Led Zeppelin song just loud enough to shake up our bones, and crack open the sun roof to let just enough light ooze onto the bridges of our noses and turn them golden.
I can’t thank him enough for giving me my love for all things culinary. And I can’t ever roll up my sleeves in my kitchen and dive head first into a cookbook without thinking of him first.
In the early years of my nutritional career, I considered food to be healing through purely a medical scope. What I’ve come to realize over the years is food can actually be healing in a very, for lack of a better term, spiritual way. Through memories where food is the centerpiece, we’re free to relive past moments and periods in our lives with an unprecedented clarity and comfort.
So, my father loved his quiche. And thus, I bake quiche. And I do it all with a certain sense of quiet tenderness and innate warmth. This quiche in particular is a beautiful twist on the classic egg dish draped in a floury pastry crust.
Inside that dazzling and delectably crunchy crust is a bit of yellow cornmeal and Meyer lemon zest. What are Meyer lemons and how do they differ from regular ole lemons? Meyers are less acidic and thus sweeter, they have a deep yellow orange color- plus they’re hyper seasonal so ya can’t find ’em all year long.
Just like lemons, Meyers contain high levels of immunity-boosting vitamin C and antioxidants to help protect against cancer and lower heart disease risk. Double win.
The deliciously rich filling of this baby is loaded with nutrient-dense asparagus. This veg contains the amino acid asparagine, a natural diuretic which helps the body naturally flush excess salt and water to prevent urinary tract infections and beat bloat. Morel mushrooms also make an appearance in this quiche, and for very good reason. This fancy fungus not only tastes delectably savory and smooth, but contains high levels of iron, copper, vitamin D, and vitamin B.
Through foods that we have attached memories to comes a new way to grieve peacefully.
Miss you, Dad.
Here’s to grief and quiche.
Asparagus & Morel Quiche with Cornmeal Meyer Lemon Crust
Makes: 6-8 servings
For the crust:
- 1 1/2 cups gluten-free flour (can also use whole wheat or all-purpose flour)
- 1/2 cup finely ground cornmeal (don’t buy the super gritty sh*t)
- 1 1/1 teaspoons sea salt
- 10 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, sliced into small cubes
- 1 teaspoon Meyer lemon zest
- 3-4 tablespoons ice cold water, maybe more (I simply dropped a couple ice cubes into a bowl of cold water and waited a minute or two)
For the filling:
- 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 3/4 lb sliced morel mushrooms (about 7 large mushrooms)
- 1/2 cup sliced asparagus
- 1 stalk green garlic or 2 scallions, sliced
- Juice from 1/2 Meyer lemon (about 1 1/2 tablespoons)
- 1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
- 1/4 chopped red jalapeño or if you no likey the spicy, red bell pepper
- 10 eggs
- 1/2 cup unsweetened plain almond milk or regular dairy milk
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- Freshly grated Parmesan (optional)
- First, make that crust! Preheat your oven to 374 degrees F. Grab your food processor and whirl together the flour, cornmeal, and salt. Drop in the small cubes of butter and lemon zest and pulse until it resembles a coarse meal.
- Pour in 3 tablespoons of the ice water and keep hitting the pulse button until a smooth dough starts to come together. Add more water, if necessary. You know you’re done when all of the flour disappears and the dough no longer feels sticky. Remove from food processor and press into a skillet (I used my trusty cast iron but chu can use whatevs as long as it’s oven-safe). Poke a couple holes in the crust with a knife and bake for 8-10 minutes until slightly golden brown —> this is called “blind baking”
- Meanwhile, make the filling. Grab a small skillet and heat the olive oil over medium high. Add morel mushrooms and sauté until soft (about 6-7 minutes). When done, place in a large mixing bowl. Add in asparagus, green garlic or scallions, lemon juice, feta, pepper, eggs, milk, salt, and pepper. Mix well until thoroughly combined. Pour over the pre-baked crust. Grate fresh Parmesan cheese on top, if desired.
- Bake for 27-35 minutes, until center looks *slightly* jiggly. Don’t overbake or you’ll get a filling that has a sponge-like texture. We all know that texture. HARD PASS. So check it after 27-28 minutes as all ovens are unique little snowflakes. Let cool for 10 minutes, slice, and serve it on up.