Roasted Red Pepper, Pancetta, and Asparagus Quiche

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My daughter is on spring break this week which has gotten us off schedule in the best possible way.  Yesterday, after a morning of fun activity, the two of us found ourselves enjoying peanut butter sandwiches in the middle of a park.  It was sunny – the sky a brilliant blue, you could hear kids playing on a nearby playground, and neither of us were in any particular rush.  Halfway through her sandwich my daughter rolled on to her stomach to continue eating it.   Looking at her lying on the blanket, I thought she had the right idea and like that a lazy hour passed.

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Then it was back to normal.  We got home just in time for her to take a nap and I spent the hour she was asleep quickly dashing off work emails and preparing for a class.  When she awoke, we were off to a swimming lesson and then suddenly it was 5 o’clock and I had no idea what I was going to make for dinner.

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Quiche is one of those things I make when I’ve completely forgotten to think about dinner. In its simplest form, it could be nothing but egg and cream baked in a pie crust, but it seems to have an open door policy.  Whether you purchase the finest ingredients or just use it as a vessel to give redemption to the dribs and drabs of your vegetable bin, a quiche takes it all in stride and delivers in a big way. Plus, I’m all for something that provides leftovers for breakfast, lunch, and dinner the next day.

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Last night, with quiche on my mind I was pleasantly surprised by what I found in my refrigerator.  Leftover pancetta and roasted bell pepper from last week’s recipe testing, a few stalks of asparagus from Easter dinner, and a half-grated round of mozzarella. My luck continued with the discovery of heavy cream, assumed lost forever in the back corner of my refrigerator, and magically unspoiled despite me not remembering when I last bought it.

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I quickly made a batch of pastry dough in my food processor, sautéed the pancetta and vegetables, and in what seemed like no time at all put quiche on the table.  Happy cooking!

Roasted Red Pepper, Pancetta and Asparagus Quiche – Printer Friendly Recipe
4 to 6 servings

Pancetta can be purchased diced and ready to use at the grocery store. This is convenient, but far from economical. Stretch your dollar by purchasing pancetta at the deli counter. I ask the employee at the counter to cut the pancetta into ¼-inch thick slices and purchase only the amount I want and need. Once home, I simply prepare the pancetta per the recipe’s instructions.

I don’t call for salt in the recipe for the quiche filling as I think the pancetta delivers enough salt for the final dish. If substituting another meat for the pancetta or omitting it entirely, you’ll want to add salt to taste to make sure that your quiche tastes its best.

For the pastry dough:
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
Pinch of salt
8 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
5 tablespoons ice cold water, more if needed

For the quiche:
4 ounces diced pancetta
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
4 ounces asparagus stalks, tough ends trimmed
½ cup finely diced roasted red pepper (roasted pimiento)
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2/3 cup heavy cream
1 large egg

1 large egg yolk
1/3 cup grated mozzarella
Special equipment: 8- or 9-inch pie plate

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

To make the pastry dough by hand whisk together the flour and salt in a large bowl. Use two forks or a pastry blender to cut the butter into the flour mixture until the fat is in small lumps.   Sprinkle the ice-cold water over the flour mixture and use a fork to pull the mixture together. Add up to 1 more tablespoon of water, in teaspoonfuls, if the dough is not coming together.

To make the pastry dough in a food processor, place the flour and salt in the bowl of the food processor and pulse to combine. Add the butter pieces and pulse until the fat is distributed in pea-sized lumps. Add the ice-cold water while continuing to pulse until the dough just comes together.

Turn the dough out on the counter (whether made by hand or by the food processor) and, working quickly, mold it into a large ball. Press the ball into a 5-inch disc. Wrap the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least thirty minutes and up to one day.

On a well-floured surface, roll out the dough to a large, 1/4-inch thick circle. Use the rolling pin to transfer the dough from the countertop to the pie plate. Turn under the dough around the edges to form a thick crust, trimming as needed. If the dough is thin in any place, patch that area with an excess piece of dough. Place the pie plate with the dough in the freezer for at least 10 minutes before baking.

Melt the butter in a medium skillet and add the pancetta and onions. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion softens and the pancetta begins to brown, about 5 to 7 minutes. Cut the asparagus spears off the stalk and set aside. Chop the tender stalks into small ¼-inch think slices. Add the spears and the chopped stalk to the pan and continue to cook for another 2-3 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the roasted bell pepper. Season to taste with freshly ground black pepper. Let cool slightly.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the heavy cream and eggs. Remove the pie plate from the freezer and scrape the vegetable and pancetta mixture into the crust.   Spread the mixture over the bottom of the crust evenly. Pour the egg mixture over the vegetables. Bake for 20 minutes.

Remove the quiche from the oven and sprinkle with the grated mozzarella cheese. Return to the oven for another 10 to 20 minutes (total cooking time may vary depending on the size of your pie plate). The quiche is ready when it is golden brown and the center is puffed. Remove from the oven and let cool at least five minutes before slicing. Quiche may be served hot or at room temperature and pairs best with a nice salad.

 

 

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