There’s a few week period right between summer’s end and fall’s beginning when all I can think about is the impending doom of winter. How many storms will we have this year? How much earlier will I have to wake up to actually dry my hair? How long will it take my car to warm up enough that my frozen fingers will able to feel the steering wheel? Soon though, the toasty smells and burnt colors work their magic and my thoughts are suddenly consumed with all the wonderful fall flavor possibilities. Savory winter squash. Tart apples. Crispy and anything-but-bitter Brussels sprouts. And everything caramelized, roasted, and slow cooked… with brown sugar on top.
When I get a food obsession, it’s on. I mean ON. The time I realized I loved onions as more than just a second rate partner to sausage and peppers? They weren’t just on the menu for dinner (every. night.), they were creeping into breakfast and lunch; I was cooking extra at night just so I could snack on them throughout the next day, and I even day dreamed of how I could win a cooking competition requiring onions in every course! When I discovered the richness of butternut squash? Roasted. Salted. Buttered. Brown sugared. Mac n cheesed. And kale? I think we had 3 straight months of kale replacing every green in any recipe I could get my hands on. Kale with beans, pasta, eggs, sausage, soup. So what happens when it suddenly hits me that all of these former obsessions could be married into one, beautifully balanced dish? Autumn Quiche.
Each of the individual ingredients in this quiche are prepped the way they taste best, and coincidentally, most fall-like. The color even screams fall with rich golden tones, peaks of green, and flecks of browned goodness. And if that weren’t enough to make you do an egg count, it’s seasoned with sage and thyme, sure to evoke tasty thanksgiving stuffing memories, and pinch of nutmeg, which is sure to bring out the eggnog lover in all of us.
yield: one 10″ quiche, divided into 6 servings or much smaller slices for brunch buffets
1 medium butternut squash, cut into 1 inch cubes
2 onions, thinly sliced (I used yellow, but I am sure that any type would work well. Red onions would make a beautiful addition color wise)
S & P
6 leaves of sage
2 sprigs of thyme
2 cups sauteed kale (about 2/3 of a bunch)
1/2 cup water
4 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
3oz. smoked gouda, shredded
1/8 tsp nutmeg (I may up this to 1/4 tsp next time)
Pie crust – store bought or homemade (martha’s recipe is an old stand by)
Preheat oven to 400
Never worked with butternut squash before? Start here:
Cut – no – tackle the butternut squash. Do not underestimate this monster. Part of the reason it is so delicious is that it’s such a pain to peel and cut, you’d have to be crazy to make it every night! Peel the squash, twice. The first time you peel you will see a whitish layer with green veins. Peel again for the familiar bright orange. I imagine a Y-peeler would make this a lot easier, but it has yet to be checked off my kitchen wish list, conveniently taped to the side of the fridge (hint?). Once it’s peeled, cut it in half at the bottom of the neck, right before the round bulb starts. The top (skinny) part is solid. Cube it with a good knife. The bigger, bulbish part is hollow. Cut it in half and scoop out/discard the stringy flesh and seeds. Cube the remainder.
Butternut squash pro? Skip to here:
Place the butternut squash cubes on a large sheet pan, toss with olive oil, a couple pinches of flaky salt, and a few grinds of pepper. Roast for 40 min, tossing a few times.
Meanwhile, set a wide sauté pan to medium-low heat and coat with olive oil. Add sliced onions and two pinches of flaky salt. Sautee, stirring onions occasionally, until brown, sticky, and sweet (caramelized). This should take about 45 – 60 minutes. *I am the queen of short cuts and reality, so I don’t caramelize onions like I am *supposed* to, especially when I am usually halfway out the door to the next celebratory occasion. Pressed for time? Cook at medium-high heat for 10min then at medium heat for another 10-20min instead.
With a slotted spoon, remove onions to a bowl, leaving olive oil in the pan. Turn the heat up to medium- medium high heat. Rip the sage into small pieces and add to oil. Pinch your fingers and run them down the thyme sprigs, adding the thyme leaves to the oil as well. Fry for 5 minutes, until crunchy and fragrant. Remove herbs and add to bowl with onions.
Wash kale, removing and discarding the stems. Roughly chop or rip each piece a few times. Add to the same pan you used for the onions and herbs, which should still have a little olive oil left over. Add water, and cook, tossing frequently, until wilted but still brightly colored. Remove from heat.
When squash is done roasting, remove and toss with onion-herb mixture.
Lower oven temp to 350. Pre-bake your crust. Roll dough out to a 12-14 inch diameter. Press into pie plate, pinching the top between your thumb and pointer finger so none of the crust hangs over the edges of the plate. Prick the bottom of the crust several times with a fork, and bake for 10min.
While crust is baking, whisk eggs, milk, nutmeg, and cheese. Add to onion-herb-squash bowl, and mix.
Remove crust from oven, and spread kale over the bottom of the plate. Spread onion-herb-squash-egg mixture on top. Bake for 30-40min.
If the crust starts to brown too soon, use aluminum foil to cover the edges only.