Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Ratatouille Quiche with a Southern Twist

Having made an enormous batch of ratatouille, I had just enough left over a few days later to use in a quiche. Although most quiche recipes call for a traditional European cheese such as Swiss, Gruyere or Cheddar, I decided to add a Southern (or North Carolina, to be more specific) twist to my quiche by using a locally made, aged hoop cheese.

For the uninitiated, hoop cheese is an old-fashioned cow's milk cheese common to the South, usually deep orange in color and with a rather soft texture that makes it easy to melt but not so easy to shred unless it's super-cold. The flavor usually is mild with just a little tang, unless the hoop cheese is aged, in which case it will be somewhat similar to a mild cheddar in flavor and the texture will also be somewhat firmer than regular hoop cheese.

My Ratatouille Quiche with a Southern Twist turned out quite lovely and colorful, and because the hoop cheese was not as strong or assertive as Swiss cheese would have been, the rich, savory flavor of the ratatouille shone through.

9" pie shell (I used whole wheat), partially baked*
3 large eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cup milk (I used 1% low-fat)
1/2 tsp Kosher salt
1/4 tsp ground pepper
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 cup shredded hoop cheese
1 cup ratatouille (drain off as much liquid as possible before measuring)
Optional garnish: A few fresh basil leaves

Ready to bake
*Preheat the oven to 375°F. If the pie shell is not already in a pie pan or quiche dish, place it in one. Put a pie weight or a few small clean stones in the shell (to keep it from puffing) and bake for 10 minutes until lightly golden. Remove the pie pan or quiche dish from oven, remove the weight, and place the pan or dish on a baking sheet (this will make it easier to move back into the oven after you've poured in the filling).

In a large bowl, combine the eggs, milk, salt & pepper and beat well. Stir in the cheese, then fold in the drained ratatouille and gently stir until thoroughly combined. Carefully pour into the pie shell, garnish top with a few basil leaves if desired, and place on middle rack in preheated oven. Bake at 375°F until the quiche has set and puffed, and is lightly browned, about 1 hr to 1 hr 15 minutes depending on your oven.

Zestfully yours,

PS: Quiche freezes well! All you have to do is make sure it's completely cooled before you wrap it tightly in freezer paper or heavy duty aluminum foil, then place in a freezer bag and squeeze out as much air before freezing. When you're ready, defrost in the refrigerator (overnight or for a full day), preheat your oven to 350°F, unwrap the quiche and heat in the oven for 20 to 30 minutes until heated through.

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