by Bonnie Sparrman

If any food has ever suffered unfair slander, it’s quiche. Hard to say whether that’s due to its cutesy two-hundred-year old moniker from a remote corner of Alsace, or to the fact that it’s nearly impossible to find a truly excellent one at a restaurant, or because in the eighties an author who satirized masculinity claimed quiche was strictly ladies’ food. Some of you may remember Real Men Don’t Eat Quiche (1982).

Well, I have found not only do real men eat quiche, when offered a decent slice they gobble it with gusto and go back for more! The same goes for women and children. In fact, when our kids name a consistently loved dish from their home of origin, to a person they claim quiche. I never planned for this tasty tart to take center stage on Christmas, Easter, and many occasions in between, but like countless traditions this one evolved. One of our boys even requested it for his high school graduation party. That time I made a dozen quiches, which isn’t half as difficult as it sounds.

With quiche, all the components are prepared ahead allowing for quick assembly an hour or so before you plan to serve it (okay, earlier if making a dozen). I love this practical aspect of making quiche. But what I especially enjoy…is the aesthetic of preparing this delectable savory cheese tart that typically includes some sort of meat, vegetables, herbs, and custard.

If asked to consider what’s aesthetically pleasing to you, cooking might not immediately pop into your head. In fact, it might feel more like an onerous chore. As much as I enjoy cooking, if I am tired, perhaps after working a long day in a kitchen, my lazy-bone might grumble at the thought of delving into a dish that requires so many steps. But with quiche, on a day when we have time to focus on the actual experience of preparation and consider what our hands are doing, we might discover cooking in a whole new light.

I enjoy the beautifully tactile experience of quiche making. From rolling tart crust (pâte brisée), to slicing and sautéing onions and mushrooms, to whipping eggs with cream, to running outside to the garden to pluck fresh herbs…each step is delightful! Okay, perhaps I get a little carried away, but for me it is pure joy, especially sprinting out the door to snip herbs. Best of all, when a gorgeous quiche is pulled from the oven and the house is filled with mouthwatering aroma, one can’t help but smile at the fruit of their labor. Additionally, making quiche is the perfect way to develop a good cross section of cooking skills.

First of all, to create a flakey tender crust, one must begin with cold butter and par bake the crust before adding any fillings. This prevents a soggy bottom. Also, using excellent knife skills and a sharp blade makes a huge impact on the final dish. Uniformly sliced onions and mushrooms cook more evenly. In our world of YouTube, learning to hold and wield a knife properly is just a few clicks away. Also, the proper caramelization of onions requires patience. If you’re including lardons or bacon in your quiche, cutting and cooking it evenly, matters, as does washing, drying, and chopping the herbs with care. When it comes to the custard, it’s best to gently but thoroughly whisk the egg and cream mixture together. Lastly, don’t forget to taste each part of the quiche and adjust seasonings as you go.

When I teach a quiche class, I hope my students learn these techniques and remember why they matter. But even more importantly, the most worthwhile idea I wish to impart is to handle food with love. Food is a valuable gift

from God and we ought to treat it as such. Every time we utter the Lord’s Prayer we remind God of our need for daily bread. Like every provision from God’s hands, the food we eat and the ingredients we cook deserve attention that reflects our appreciation. I believe using excellent techniques demonstrates gratitude. It’s like saying, “Thank you, God, for onions that grow under the ground, for chickens and their eggs, and for pungent cheeses. Thank you for the mystery of fungal spores that become mushrooms, and for tasty spinach so rich in nutrients. Lastly, thank you for lovely herbs that add delicious flavors and dress up the top of a quiche.” This conscious gratitude and attention to proper cooking techniques has a fantastic side benefit. It propels us to create food that is no less than scrumptious. And I might add, striving for well-prepared dishes is not being a food snob. Rather it means making the most of the gifts we’ve received; both ingredients and the ability to turn them into something that welcomes, blesses, and satisfies others.

Back to our quiche-loving clan—I never once said, “Children, finish your quiche!” Quite the opposite. They could be caught warming a plate of quiche before bed or slipping a slice into their lunchbox for school. And once I received a near-frantic phone call from our youngest who spent a summer working at a bed and breakfast in Tuscany. From 4,753 miles away I heard panic in his voice, “Mom! I promised to make breakfast for the guests and I need your quiche recipe. Uh…right now, if possible!” Some hours later I smiled at photos of his beautiful quiches made with local cheeses and fresh vegetables. How pleased I felt to see his well-made tarts that I know smelled as wonderful as they looked. Those lucky welcomed, blessed, and satisfied guests!


Serves 8


Tart Shell

1¼ cups all-purpose flour
¼ tsp salt
4 oz. unsalted butter, cold, cut into about 10 pieces
¼ cup ice water

Place flour and salt in a mixing bowl. Add butter chunks and toss lightly with fingers to coat butter. Continue to cut butter into flour using your fingers or a pastry blender. When the mixture resembles corn meal with pea-sized bits of butter, add ice water one tablespoon at a time, tossing ingredients in a bowl with fingers. Handling dough as little as possible, continue to turn dough over until it holds together when squeezed into a ball. Place dough on the counter. With the heel of hand, push or smear the dough about ten inches across the counter. This is called fraisage. Regather dough and shape into a six-inch disk. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill for at least one hour.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Roll dough on a lightly floured countertop into a circle, 13-inches in diameter. Keep a thin layer of flour between rolling pin and dough and between countertop and dough to prevent sticking. Transfer dough to a lightly buttered 9-10-inch quiche pan. Tuck edges under and press into a fluted edge with your fingers. Chill in the freezer for 10 minutes. Place a piece of parchment or aluminum foil on top of the dough. Fill with pie weights or dry beans. Bake for 15-17 minutes or until the edges of the tart shell begin to brown. Remove pie weights and parchment and bake for a couple more minutes or until dough appears dry in the center.


5 eggs
1 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup half and half
6 oz. gruyere cheese, grated (or another Swiss, if you prefer)
1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
8 oz. mushrooms, white button or baby bellas, sliced
4-5 oz. fresh spinach, chopped
1 clove garlic
4 oz. bacon
Several tablespoons olive oil
½ tsp. salt
dash cayenne pepper
chopped herbs: 1 T. parsley, 1 tsp. fresh thyme

Pour about 2 T. olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add sliced onions. Cover pan and sweat onions stirring occasionally. Lower temperature to medium low heat and continue cooking until onions are reduced to less than half their original volume. Keep cooking, stirring frequently until onions are golden brown. Season with salt and pepper. Cool.

Cook bacon and cut into small pieces. Sauté mushrooms in olive oil with a whole clove of garlic. After garlic is soft, mince and add back to mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper.

Sauté spinach in several bunches in olive oil over medium heat. Season with salt and pepper. Place spinach in a colander and press out excess liquid.

Whisk together: eggs, cream, half & half, cayenne, salt, and pepper.

Scatter onions, grated cheese, bacon, spinach, and mushrooms into the par-baked tart shell. Pour cream and egg mixture over filling ingredients. Sprinkle with herbs. Bake at 375 degrees for about 35-40 minutes or until the top is golden in color and the center is set. Cool for ten minutes before cutting.


Customize fillings to please your palate.

Filling ingredients may be prepared several days ahead and stored in airtight containers in the fridge until you’re ready to assemble the quiche. Also, par-baked shells freeze beautifully if you need to work ahead. Wrap shells in plastic-wrap and then in aluminum foil before freezing.

If you desire a gluten-free quiche, simply omit the crust and bake filling ingredients in a buttered casserole or quiche pan.