The Quintessential Quiche


Ian Hilton

Springtime quiche calls for springtime sides – light salad and cantaloupe. Photo by Ian Hilton, 4/12/2021.

Spring is here, and with vaccination rates rising faster than the birth rate of garden-ravaging squirrels, folks are eager to resume normal activities. 

What, dear reader, celebrates both spring and togetherness better than brunch? And what, most illustrious reader, encapsulates brunch more than quiche? The answer to both, you sly and clever reader, is, of course, nothing.

Quiche can be tweaked in myriad ways. Delicious and versatile as quiche can be, healthy it is unfortunately not. Heavy whipping cream, butter and cheese are all present here, but let’s be honest: This is no pre-workout dish.

Quiche is basically an egg and dairy pie, containing vegetables, meats or both, plus some fresh herbs for good measure. Luckily for my partner, I made a couple of quiches this week to ensure that you, the resplendent reader, get what I think is the most well-rounded version of both my efforts. This week we’ll explore a veggie quiche, but this is all proportional, so take some stuff away add some other stuff; just keep in mind we only have a finite amount of space per pie shell to fill.

Speaking of pie shells, it’s quite easy to make your own! However, if you’re like me on a lazy, beautiful Saturday morning, a store-bought shell works just fine. New Earth Market sells shells called Wholly Wholesome. 

They’re all organic and come in regular, wheat and gluten-free options. I swear by these shells; they’re the best I’ve had the pleasure of baking.

So, quiche-curious reader, time to whistle a tune, wipe the pollen off your face and open the windows; it’s quiche time.

Let’s cook.

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cook time: 43-47 minutes

Set time: 30 minutes

Total time: 1 hour, 40 minutes


Parchment paper and dried beans for blind baking (see note)

Cutting board

Kitchen knife

Cheese grater

Large mixing bowl

Measuring spoons

Measuring cup

Fork or whisk

Sauté pan

Oven and range

Baking sheet


1 pie shell

2 cups of chopped mushrooms

1 cup of julienned yellow onion

1 hefty handful of fresh spinach

2 tablespoons of olive oil

1 tablespoon of butter

2 cups of shredded cheese. Cheddar, swiss, Havarti or jack, whatever your preference is, as long as it measures 2 cups.

4 eggs

1 cup of heavy whipping cream

Salt and black pepper to taste

1/8 teaspoon of nutmeg

½ tablespoon of chopped, dried rosemary


Preheat the oven to 400 F.

Thaw the frozen pie shell for 10-12 minutes and place it on a baking sheet.

Line the shell with parchment paper and add the dried beans, filling to the rim.

Blind baking with beans – this is about as full as is necessary. Photo by Ian Hilton, 4/12/2021.

Bake the shell for 10-15 minutes. I start with 10, then remove from the oven, lift the bean-filled parchment paper and check for doneness. The bottom of the shell should appear light beige; if it’s still opaquely yellowish it needs another few minutes.

Remove the shell from the oven and let it rest for at least 10 minutes. Save the beans for your next blind bake.

Reduce the oven to 350 F.

Pour olive oil into the pan and sauté the onions on medium heat for about 5 minutes.

Add the butter and, once melted, add the mushrooms and cook them fully, adding salt and pepper to taste. A little salt goes a long way, especially if you like salting your egg mixture as well. Also, if you’re using a salty meat like bacon, you might skip the salt altogether.

Add the spinach right on top, stirring frequently, until the leaves are cooked down completely. If you think you’ve added too much spinach, that’s great — spinach shrinks substantially. The resulting mixture should measure about 1 ½ cups (see pictures).

This might seem like spinach overload, but check out the next picture. Photo by Ian Hilton, 4/12/2021.
All that spinach, plus the two cups of mushrooms and one cup of onions cooks down to about a cup and a half. Don’t believe me? Check out the next picture. Photo by Ian Hilton, 4/12/2021.
See? A cup and a half, on the nose. Photo by Ian Hilton, 4/12/2021.

Remove the onions, mushrooms and spinach from the heat and allow them to cool completely.

Mix together the eggs, heavy whipping cream and nutmeg. I like to add some additional black pepper.

In the large mixing bowl, combine the veggies and shredded cheese and mix thoroughly.

Fill the pie shell with the veggie and cheese mixture.

Carefully pour the egg and cream mixture over the veggies and cheese. If you’re not confident with your delicate pouring abilities, a ladle is a safe option (see note).

Bake at 350 F for 43-47 minutes (oven temperatures vary, adjust this time accordingly).

Remove the pie from the oven to check its doneness using the jiggle method (see note).

Garnish with rosemary.

Let your quiche set for about 30 minutes. Yes, this is the most difficult step, but you’ve come so far! Don’t be impatient!

Spinach, mushroom and onion quiche, setting up nicely. Photo by Ian Hilton, 4/12/2021.


Blind baking basics: Blind baking is required for any pie that’s liquid-based. Even semi-solid fillings like apple and pumpkin pie need this pre-baking technique to avoid a soggy pie shell. 

  • The directions listed on the Wholly Wholesome packaging say to simply put the crust in the oven at 400 F. Do not do this — the bottom of the shell will puff up and, whether by that process or by pushing it back down, it is liable to crack and break. 
  • Another method is to poke the bottom a dozen times or so with a fork but, as we’re baking a liquid-based pie, the egg and cream will fill those holes, cooking and therefore sticking to the pie tin, making dishing pie pieces out difficult if not impossible without cracking and breaking. 
  • The solution is to blind bake by lining the shell with parchment paper and filling it with dried beans. Rice is also acceptable, but beans are cheaper. One annoyance is that, although you can still cook and eat the beans after using them in a blind bake, the smell becomes acrid and strong. Luckily, reusing beans for this purpose is just fine. I even save that parchment paper in the same jar as the beans, making this step a non-hassle.

Precarious pour: The reason you want to be delicate with your egg and cream pour is because, as you’ve filled the crust with your veggies and cheese carefully and deliberately, you don’t want to distort that structure with a deluge of liquid. At this stage, you’re just filling in the spaces between the solid filling, nothing more. Pour a little and let it settle, then pick another spot and do the same. The end result should be that the egg and cream mixture is as evenly spread as your veggie and cheese mixture.

Wiggle it, jiggle it: Not the most scientific method, but it works. When the pie comes out of the oven, check it by jolting the baking sheet on which the pie is sitting. If the center of the pie (under the top layer) seems quite liquid-y, it’s not done. If it jiggles like a gelatin, you’re close and will have to make that call. Remember: as the pie sets, its residual heat continues cooking it. If the area that jiggles is roughly the circumference of a can of beer … soda, I’m happy to let the setting process finish it. Rest the pie on a cooling rack if you have one; ideally there should be air flow underneath it to cool evenly. Otherwise, an open window works, but watch out for bears. Never get between a bear and a quiche.

Ian Hilton can be reached at [email protected].

Tags: Quiche, spring, blind bake, pie, brunch, New Earth, Wholly Wholesome, butter pie crust, bears