Usually, when I have a bit of leftover blue cheese, I’ll throw it into a risotto with some smoky pancetta – the result is invariably salty and satisfying. However, as I have a risotto recipe coming up soon, I thought I would try something new, and as a result of my experiments I’m pleased to say I have come up with this lovely quiche recipe.
A chunk of creamy Cropwell Bishop Stilton, a leftover box of zucchini and leaves from a pot of sage on the windowsill come together to make this delicious supper. Slicing the zucchini thinly length-ways with a mandolin and then softening it on a griddle means it becomes pliable to fold into beautiful curls – and you can see the lovely griddle marks on the vegetables in the final quiche.
I sprinkle my cooked quiche with a couple of whole leaves of fresh sage – as well as looking pretty and adding a splash of fresh green, it helps people identify one of the main flavors in there, but as it’s a bit strong to eat raw, you might want to warn any guests against tucking into those. Serve with a simple green salad dressed with a light vinaigrette.
For the pastry:
225g/8oz/scant 1¾ cups plain/all-purpose flour
a pinch of salt
110g/3¾oz/½ cup butter, chilled and diced
1 large egg
For the filling:
olive oil, for brushing and frying
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1 large clove garlic, crushed
2 zucchini, cut into thin slices lengthways
2 large eggs
160ml/5¼fl oz/2/3 cup double/heavy cream
70g/2½oz Stilton, or other blue cheese
about 10 sage leaves, thinly sliced, plus extra whole leaves to decorate
Parmesan cheese, for finely grating over the top
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Start by making the pastry. Sift the flour onto a board or clean work surface and sprinkle over the salt. Make a well in the center, fill it with the diced butter and crack in the egg. Using the tips of your fingers, rub the butter and egg into the flour until everything is well incorporated. Don’t rush this as if you bring it together too soon, the pastry will be crumbly. Just keep rubbing and once the butter is all incorporated, the dough will begin to clump together naturally. At this point, bring the dough into a ball, wrap it in cling film/plastic wrap, and chill it in the fridge for about 20 minutes.
Once the pastry is chilled, dust a work surface with a little flour and roll out the pastry to a circle big enough to line the base and sides of the tin. Line the tin and prick the base with a fork several times. Return the pastry to the fridge for another 20 minutes or so – plenty of chilling will stop the pastry shrinking back when you cook it. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200ºC/400ºF/Gas 6.
Line the pastry case with a sheet of baking parchment – making sure the parchment overlaps the sides – and fill with baking beans. Blind bake for 12 minutes, then remove the parchment and beans and bake for another 3 minutes to crisp up the bottom a little.
While the pastry is in its various stages of chilling and baking, start the filling. Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a frying pan over a low heat, add the onions and cook slowly for at least 10 minutes until sweet, soft and caramelized. Add more oil at any point if they start looking a little dry. Add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.
Meanwhile, start griddling the zucchini. Heat a griddle pan until really hot. Brush both sides of each zucchini slice with a light layer of olive oil, and griddle in batches for a few seconds on each side, until the slices are charred with brown lines from the griddle. Repeat the batches until all the zucchini are charred. Keep an eye on the onions while you do this – you don’t want them to burn.
In a jug, whisk together the eggs and cream until well combined. Season really well with black pepper, but add only a little salt as the cheese is very salty.
Once the part-cooked pastry case comes out of the oven, spread the onions over the base. Arrange the zucchini slices over the onions, curling the ribbons up to get some good height, and so that you will be able to see the curls above the egg mixture. Crumble the Stilton over the quiche, then sprinkle over the chopped sage. Pour the egg and cream mix all over the quiche until it comes just below the top of the pastry. Sprinkle the top of the quiche with a little Parmesan cheese and pop it in the oven. Cook for about 20 minutes and then check on it. If it’s starting to brown a little too much, cover it loosely with foil and return to the oven for another 15 minutes or so until the center is cooked, but still a little wobbly.
Allow the quiche to cool and set a little before you remove it from the tin onto a wire rack to cool completely. Sprinkle a few whole fresh sage leaves over the top to serve.