Let's talk comfort food, shall we? Growing up my favorite family meals were things like Chicken and Dumplings (which my dad so lovingly called "chicken and glue"), Enchiladas de Creme, and homemade Quiche Lorraine complete with bacon. That's right, bacon. It's safe to say things have changed quite a bit since then, and since going vegetarian my comfort meals have began looking quite different. Instead of chicken and beef we eat beans (so. many. beans.), squash, pasta, and roasted vegetables. These things have become my comfort foods.
I hadn't made my mom's quiche recipe in months when my man and I visited Prague last year on a trip to Europe. I know what you're thinking, "Prague is the home of goulash, bratwurst, and red meat galore". You're right. But it also happened to be home to the cutest little "Prague's first smoke-free" cafe with the best quiche I've ever had (sorry mom, you lost me at the bacon, no hurt feelings). What made this quiche so special was the perfect blend of creamy delicious spinach and the salty bite of feta, with really just a touch of eggs and milk. It was strangely reminiscent of spanakopita. I knew after one bite I had to recreate it.
Since coming home I've probably attempted it close to a dozen times, even serving it as a side for Thanksgiving last year, but never getting the proportions just perfect. Until now. Unlike traditional quiche, made with about 75% egg and a combination of milk and cream and about 25% vegetables and meat, in this quiche those proportions are swapped. And from a girl who considers bright green cooked spinach to be one of the most comforting foods in the world, this spinach-packed quiche is comfort food at it's finest. It's still got two eggs, a nice helping of mozzarella, feta, and freshly grated parmigiano reggiano but it's got a whopping 1.5 pound of spinach. That's right. Popeye would be proud. Oh and did I mention the homemade crust? Yeah, I'm not going to lie, there's a stick of butter in it, which I stand whole-heartedly behind.
This spinach and feta quiche was made for cool fall evenings and is meant to be savored at a table surrounded by people you love. The entire pie doesn't usually make it more than 24 hours in our house before it's devoured. I suppose the fact that quiche makes a perfectly acceptable breakfast, lunch or dinner has something to do with it. This dish tastes like home. It reminds me of high school dinners, coming downstairs to eat with the family for a much-needed study break. But it also reminds me of the look on my husband's face when he comes home from work and I tell him I have quiche in the oven. I think we could all use a little more of that this time of year.
Spinach Prague Quiche
Makes one 9-inch round quiche
Inspired by mom & café kafíčko
For the crust (from The Art & Soul of Baking):
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/4 tsp sea salt
3-4 tbsp cold water
For the filling:
1.5 pounds frozen spinach
2 green onions, diced
1/2 cup grated mozzarella
6 oz crumbled feta
1/4 cup grated parmigiano reggiano, plus more for topping
1 tbsp all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp salt
freshly ground pepper
Cut your butter into 1/2 inch pieces and freeze for 20-30 minutes. Meanwhile, place flour and salt into a food processor and pulse until combined. Then add butter pieces and pulse until the dough looks like chunky sand with big bits of butter. Add water, 1-2 tbsp at a time, and pulse. You'll know when your dough is ready when you squeeze a small amount of it in your hand and it forms a cohesive ball. If you do this and it falls apart, add more water and continue to pulse. Transfer dough to a large piece of plastic wrap and press it together to combine into a disc. Knead the dough one to two times, then cover completely in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook your frozen spinach for 2-4 minutes, until bright green. Transfer to a fine mesh strainer and press all the water from the spinach. Combine spinach, green onions, cheeses, and flour. In a separate bowl, combine milk, cream, eggs, salt & pepper.
Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and roll the dough out to fit your pie dish, then transfer to dish. If your dough gets too warm and butter chunks begin to melt, (mine did), pop it back in the fridge for 5-10 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Top the pie crust with the spinach & cheese mixture, then pour milk and egg mixture over the spinach. Using a fork, or your hand, gently massage the spinach with the egg mixture until loosely combined. Top with freshly grated parmesan then cook for about 1 hour until a toothpick comes out clean and the feta bits begin to brown just slightly.