How to use up all that zucchini with JOY
it's...a very tall quiche. Happy Home Movies Tuesday!
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Quiche, fun to say, more fun to eat, sometimes extremely annoying to make. Towing the line of “love to eat you, but will never make you at home,” (see: french fries, laminated pastries), and “actually pretty easy to make at home, why don’t I do this more often” (see: cinnamon rolls), this particular version is worth making for the sheer fact that it will, in one single quiche, use up two pounds of zucchini. Does “uses up two pounds of zucchini” negate the annoyance of making your own crust, waiting for it to chill, rolling it out, par-baking it till set, making the filling, hoping it doesn’t leak out of the crust, waiting for it to cool, etcetera etcetera? Lol no, of course not. But TWO POUNDS OF ZUCCHINI is a lot, especially for anyone reading this who is a farmer (?), gentleman or otherwise, that knows once the zucchini start growing, well, they simply can not stop.
By August, farm stands and markets are practically giving it away and I know you, you love a deal, especially on seasonal produce, and in a haze of summer optimism you buy so much of it and think: I’ll grill it! I’ll make pasta salad! I’ll do that one salad I saw that promises to make me like the taste of raw zucchini! I’ll do something to it which makes it taste not that good but I’ll serve it over yogurt! I’ll I’ll I’ll….never reach for it because I don’t really love it all that much and so then I’ll let it get soft and go bad in the back of the bottom drawer of my fridge. By August, you’re paying people to come to your house and eat your zucchini prepared four ways. By August, you’re doing unspeakable things (cruising TikTok?) for any recipe that calls for the largest amount of zucchini a recipe can call for, silently screaming as you scroll, please, something, someone: Take this summer squash off my hands, make me whole again. I am you. You are me. I am projecting.
Okay, so, back to quiche. Why a quiche and not a frittata (and what’s the difference)? Great question. To me, frittata is more of a fridge-clean-out thing, something quick and dirty, easy and effortless. It’s a good place to put anything you found in your fridge you can’t stand to look at anymore, and the techniques are wide-ranging and generally forgiving. There can be cheese but never any heavy cream, and the end result is something eggier, springier (I said frittata, not tortilla española), snackier, and has 100% less crust than a quiche. This is a great recipe for frittata (here is a deeper explainer with video).
Quiche, on the other hand, is a bit more labor intensive and requires slightly more “planning” (how many of you just decided you’d rather have a frittata?), but you’re rewarded greatly with a dramatically tall custardy interior (gentle, velvety) that screams OPULENCE and comfort, nestled inside a buttery, snappy crust that you made with your own two hands, and doesn’t personal accomplishment taste just simply divine? Of course, it is also: A great opportunity to use up two pounds of zucchini.
Because I am sensitive to the irritations of needless steps both in life and in recipes, it was important to me that if I was going to ask you (or myself) to go through the rigamarole of quiche making that the preparation of the filling itself be relatively painless. This meant no pre-cooking, sautéing, roasting, sweating or caramelizing of something or other. I would, however, use a box grater. I would massage and salt. I would drain excess liquid. I would…use two pounds of zucchini (and one onion, lots of leafy greens).
The TLDR here for quiche success is:
-If your crust is cracking when you’re rolling, let it hang on the counter for a few minutes. Very cold butter will be more difficult to roll than less-than-very-cold-but-still-not-soft butter.
-If the crust has a breach, don’t despair. Use excess dough to patch up any holes, rips, cracks or tears.
-A 9” springform is the ideal home for a quiche, but a 9” pie plate is great, too. You could, I assume, make this in a sheet pan as well but then it would not be “very tall,” and you’d also have to decrease the bake time and also it would be more of a tart.
-Really squeeze the hell out of those vegetables. Turn it into a game, even if you’re alone. The water in the squash is what will prevent the filling from setting, so squeeze like your quiche depends on it (it does).
-Herbs are welcome here, but I find them best fresh, torn into a side salad which is all you need when you have quiche. By herbs I mean dill, mostly.
A Very Tall Quiche with Zucchini and Greens
Makes one deep 9-inch quiche
Once again, I am asking you to use a springform pan. Yes, this quiche can be baked in a deep-dish pie plate (you’ll have a bit of custard left over), but it’s the springform that’ll give you those high sides that scream “drama.” While I feel like most quiches rely heavily on the cheese of it all, here it’s really the vegetables that are doing most of the work (but of course, there is still cheese). How will two whole pounds of zucchini fit into this quiche? Through the magic of grating, salting, and squeezing, you’ll see that zucchini is mostly water and that when all is said and done, you’re not left with much zucchini at all. Is zucchini a lie? Seems that way.
Needless to say, that salting and squeezing part is really important to the success of the quiche—too much water left inside the vegetables and you’ll be left with a soupy, unsliceable mess. If that step feels annoying, just be grateful (no pun intended) I’m not asking you to cook the zucchini (because if you squeeze it hard enough, there’s no need!).
All-purpose flour, for dusting
1 disc Whole Wheat Pie Crust (see below) or The Only Pie Crust
2 pounds/900g zucchini or other summer squash
1 medium yellow or white onion (about 6 ounces/170g)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 ounces/115g feta cheese, crumbled, or parmesan, grated (about 1 cup)
6 large eggs
1¼ cups/290g heavy cream
2 ounces/60g dark, leafy greens, such as kale or Swiss chard, torn into bite-size pieces (1½ cups)
Zucchini flowers (optional)
Olive oil, for drizzling
1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
2. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough to a round about 14 inches in diameter.
3. Transfer the dough round to a 9-inch springform or regular cake pan (line with parchment if using a regular cake pan), pressing into the bottom and up the sides about 2 inches. Using a knife or scissors, trim any overhang.
4. Place a sheet of parchment paper inside the dough and fill it with pie weights or dried beans. Bake until the sides are set and the top is starting to brown, 20–25 minutes. Remove it from the oven and remove the pie weights and parchment. Return the crust to the oven to continue to brown on the bottom, another 10 minutes or so.
5. Meanwhile, thinly slice a few coins of the zucchini to scatter over the top at the end (just a few pieces; this is purely for decor). Coarsely grate the rest on a box grater (or food processor attachment, if you can find it) along with the onion. Transfer both to a large bowl, season well with salt, toss, and let sit for 10–20 minutes, letting the water come out as the zucchini softens.
6. Once the crust is baked, remove it from the oven and set it aside while you prepare the filling. Using your hands (or a cheesecloth or kitchen towel), squeeze all the water from the zucchini/onion mixture (there will be a lot!). The zucchini/onions should be rather dry by the time you’re done with them.
7. In another large bowl, whisk the feta, eggs, and heavy cream together until well blended (some pieces of feta are fine). Add the zucchini/onion mixture and the greens and season well with salt and lots of pepper.
8. Pour the mixture into the prebaked quiche shell and scatter the top with the sliced zucchini coins and zucchini flowers, if available. Drizzle with olive oil and give it another crack of pepper and sprinkle of salt.
9. Bake until the custard is set and no longer jiggles, 40–45 minutes. It should look slightly puffed and browned around the edges, but still pretty blond in the center.
EAT WITH: An open tin of anchovies, a salad of peppery greens and lots of dill with a squeeze of lemon.
DO AHEAD: The quiche can be baked 2 days ahead, stored loosely wrapped and refrigerated. It can be gently warmed in a 350°F oven if you like, or simply bring it to room temperature before serving.
Whole Wheat Pie Crust
Makes 2 discs
While I still believe in the power of The Only Pie Crust, this is a great variation. I am not a whole-grain baking specialist, by any means, but I do like to occasionally dabble in swapping a percentage of all-purpose with whole wheat or alternative grain flours, such as rye or spelt flour, for added nuttiness, complexity, and a slightly grittier texture. While stone fruit and berry galettes do play well in this type of environment, my favorite application for whole wheat/whole grains is for savory galettes and quiches. Something to keep in mind is that whole-grain flours absorb moisture differently than refined white flour, so there is a bit more water in this recipe than the classic version to keep things properly hydrated. For this reason, you may find yourself adding a bit more flour when rolling out (you can use all-purpose for that), which is totally fine.
1¾ cups/255g all-purpose flour
¾ cup/100g whole wheat, spelt, or rye flour
2 teaspoons/8g sugar
1½ teaspoons/6g kosher salt
2½ sticks/10 ounces/285g unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces, chilled
1 tablespoon/15g apple cider vinegar or distilled white vinegar
⅓ cup/80g ice cold water, plus more only if you absolutely must
1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, sugar, and salt. Add the butter and toss to coat it in the flour mixture. Using your hands, smash the butter between your palms and fingertips, mixing it into the flour, creating long, thin, flaky, floury, buttery bits. Once most of the butter is incorporated and there are no large chunks remaining, dump the flour mixture onto a work surface.
2. In a measuring cup, combine the vinegar and ice water and drizzle it over the flour/butter mixture. Run your fingers through the mixture like you’re running your fingers through your hair, just to evenly distribute the water through the flour until the dough starts coming together.
3. Knead the dough a few more times, just to gather up any dry bits from the bottom and place them on the top to be incorporated. You will be tempted to add a tablespoon or two more water now—resist if you can, add only if you must.
4. Once you’ve got a shaggy mass of dough (it will not be smooth and it certainly will not be shiny), knead it once or twice more and divide it in half. Pat each piece into a flat disc about 1 inch thick. Wrap each disc individually in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours.
USE FOR: Sweet and savory galettes, quiche, pot pie, tomato tart.
DO AHEAD: The pie dough can be made and refrigerated for up to 1 week; frozen for up to 2 months.