If there’s anything in recent months that can be described as “short and sweet,” it’s the UK asparagus season. My creative juices have been draining away as design projects drag out, overcast weeks seem to extend themselves even as the promise of a sunny holiday draws slowly nearer, and most strangers I encounter are better categorised as “tall and indifferent.” In the midst of all this, though, there is glorious asparagus, shooting itself gallantly through the topsoil and into the produce bags of many an eager Brit; it’s like the gold standard of vegetables here. Since the season is so brief and the freshness/flavour begin to deteriorate as soon as they’re harvested, a bundle of asparagus can set you back a bit more than expected… but I’d happily skip a few mornings’ cup of coffee in penance.
Their tender Spring flavour is complemented so well by umami mushrooms and the assertiveness of sun-dried tomatoes. I’ve used the dried shiitake mushrooms that are a staple in any Asian pantry, but I imagine a handful of fresh mushrooms would be just as good—perhaps better. Don’t skimp on the cracked black pepper, either!
Blanching the asparagus is mostly to ensure that they cook fully during the baking process, but it’s not necessary if you can’t be bothered or prefer bit of residual crispness. Learn about the other benefits of blanching here in my previous post.
Quiche is now widely associated with French cuisine, but actually originated in Germany in the form of an egg custard pie called kuchen. “Kuchen,” which means cake in German, evolved into “küche” in the Lorraine Franconian dialect spoken along the French/German border, eventually becoming the more recognisable word “kische.” This region is the same birthplace of the ever-popular Quiche Lorraine, which incorporated smoked bacon and later, cheese. Now there are countless adaptations and variations, all with a custardy base filling consisting of eggs and milk or cream.
The crust on a modern quiche is often buttery shortcrust pastry, but I decided to lean more towards the French tradition of using bread dough as a base; although this crust isn’t yeasted, it’s hearty and lacks excessive richness, allowing for maximum consumption capacity. I like my crusts more than the average foodie, so I’ve used 1 cup of flour (adjusting the liquid as needed) instead of the ¾ stated below… but if the ratio of crust:filling in these photos still freaks you out, don’t hesitate to roll it thinner or bake it in a deeper pan.
Asparagus Quiche with Mushrooms & Sun-dried Tomatoes
- 3 eggs, beaten
- 120ml (½ cup) oat milk
- 50g Parmigiano-Reggiano, freshly grated
- 1 t sea salt
- ½ t black pepper, freshly milled
- 40g dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked and chopped (or fresh)
- 3 sun-dried tomatoes, soaked and chopped
- 6 stalks asparagus, lower stalks chopped
- pinch of crushed red chill flakes (optional)
- ¾ cup white whole wheat flour
- 2 T sesame seeds, toasted
- ½ t baking powder
- ¾ t sea salt
- ½ t black pepper, freshly milled
- 120ml (¼ cup) oat milk
- 60ml (¼ cup) light sesame / olive oil
Preheat oven to 180ºC/350ºF. Toast sesame seeds for 5 minutes on a baking sheet.
Combine seeds with dry crust ingredients, then whisk in the milk and oil. You may need more or less than ¼ cup of milk, but start with a few tablespoons and add more until the dough takes form. Roll out and press into an oiled tart pan.
Prick the base with a fork and blind bake using pie weights or dry beans for about 20 minutes while preparing the filling.
After halving the asparagus spears and chopping up the bottom stalks (the photos of the finished quiche might make this clearer), blanch them all in boiling water for 3 minutes before shocking them in cold water to ensure tenderness after baking.
Combine all the ingredients for the filling and pour into the half-baked crust, reserving the asparagus spear tops and a few sun-dried tomato strips to arrange as decoration before popping into the oven.
Bake for 20 minutes or until the centre is firm. Sprinkle with another pinch of chill flakes and a grating of black pepper before serving.