Not that it was much of one, but so long winter! Now that spring is here, it’s time to make a trip to the farmer’s market, dust off the outdoor furniture and fire up the grill. Oh, and attempt spring cleaning. Here’s hoping your cleaning progress is far enough along to be thinking about cooking. (Either that or thoughts of food serve as procrastination from clearing out those dust bunnies!)
In the Mid-Atlantic, asparagus and spinach are the gifts of April showers. These versatile and nutrient-rich veggies are ideal for a spring menu. When Stacey hosted two food blogger friends for Easter lunch, she was excited to use a bunch of asparagus and potatoes that needed to get used up. So one of the guests of honor, Cecilia of OneVanillaBean, suggested making a Cheesy Broccoli & Red Pepper Quiche with Potato Crust from Olga, the other guest’s blog, Mango Tomato.
First things first: bring about 4 oz. of Neufchatel (or cream) cheese to room temperature. Then, to make the crust, preheat the oven to 425 degrees. In the food processor, grate a few small russet potatoes, squeeze out the excess water and mix about 3 cups of potato with one egg and salt. Line a greased pie plate with the potato mixture. Spritz the top of the potatoes with cooking spray and bake for about 15 minutes.
Then heat some oil on the stovetop, add salt and a bunch of cleaned, cut asparagus. (When I went to dice my onion, which needed to be cooked with the asparagus, I saw it went bad and omitted it from the recipe, and it still tasted great.) While the asparagus cook, mix 4 eggs, 1 cup of half-and-half (or milk) and the room-temp Neufchatel cheese in a bowl. Add the asparagus and about ½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese. Pour the contents of the bowl into the dish over the potato crust.
Bake at 425 for 15 minutes and then bring down the temperature to 350 degrees. Bake another 25 minutes or until the top browns slightly. If you need to keep the dish warm until company arrives, cover with foil and lower the oven to 250 or 300 degrees. Serves 6 generous slices or 8 smaller portions.
Since most major grocery chains have been offering asparagus from out of the country, it’s a welcome relief to know that a local product is on its way. Great for the grill, topped on pizza, or as an elegant side, asparagus is a good source of folate, Vitamin C and Vitamin A. Spinach works wonders as the base for a power packed salad (fiber, folate, Vitamin C, iron, Vitamin A), but is easily sautéed to toss with pasta or other grains, or keep it simple and steam with salt and pepper.
What’s on your spring celebration menu? What are you looking forward to adding back to the table?