Sunday, March 22, 2009

Springtime quiche of asparagus and prosciutto

I made this quiche on a whim to use up half a bunch of asparagus, and I found that the combination of asparagus and prosciutto cotto worked perfectly. The slightly salty prosciutto cotto (I wouldn't use prosciutto crudo in this, as it's much saltier than cotto) was just the right complement for the sweet, mildly grassy flavor of the asparagus. A great dish to celebrate the beginning of Spring!

Shortcrust pastry (see recipe here)
1/2 a bunch (about 10 stalks) of fresh asparagus
A couple of slices, or about 50-60 g. prosciutto cotto - substitute plain ham if you can't get any prosciutto cotto
2 eggs
1/2 small glass of milk
Pecorino sardo or pecorino romano, or other hard cheese of your choosing
A couple cloves of garlic
Olive oil

First, preheat the oven to about 355º F /180º C. Wash the asparagus and break off the hard, stringy parts at the bottom (I usualy just bend them until they snap and throw away the part that snaps off). Cut off the tips and reserve them. Chop the rest of the asparagus stalks crosswise into little circles/cylinders.

Crush the garlic cloves and heat some olive oil in a wide pan that you can cover. When the olive oil is hot, add the garlic and, after a minute or so, the asparagus rondelles (which seems to be a word in English since my spell-checker hasn't marked it wrong!). At this point you can remove the garlic if you like - I just kept it in because I like garlic, but it's not necessary.

Let the asparagus cook a few minutes and then pour enough water in the pan to cover the asparagus. Bring the water to a boil and then cover the pan, turn the heat down low and let simmer 15-20 minutes.

When the asparagus have cooked, drain off the excess water and put the asparagus in a large bowl, along with the garlic, if you desire, and the uncooked asparagus tips.

Dice the prosciutto and add it to the asparagus. Lightly beat the eggs and add them to the prosciutto and asparagus, along with the milk. Grate in a smallish amount of pecorino and add just a pinch of salt and pepper - because the prosciutto adds a significant amount of flavor, you don't want to add in great heaps of pecorino, salt, or pepper here - just enough to spice things up a bit.

Butter a tart pan and roll out the pastry into a disc large enough to cover the pan. Cover the bottom and sides of the pan with the pastry and poke holes in the pastry with a fork. I like to bake the pastry first on its own for about 10 minutes so that it doesn't get all soggy from the filling. If you want, do this first, otherwise just pour in the filling.

Let the quiche bake about 1/2 an hour (after any pre-baking of the crust), remove from the oven and let cool 10 minutes before serving. Like most quiches, this tastes just as good, if not better, after sitting in the refrigerator for a day.

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