Many months ago, a friend of mine who works on Diabetic Living mentioned that she’d recently taste-tested a quiche that used raw quinoa for the crust. I didn’t get many of the details at that time but I tucked that nugget away because it sounded so intriguing—wouldn’t the quinoa be crunchy in the end result? Would you miss the buttery richness of a traditional quiche crust? I was skeptical, but very curious.
I’ve been trying to make my way through our CSA box this week, which featured a load of sweet potatoes. Apparently the drought that we had all summer didn’t impact the crop one bit as our farmers harvested over 25,000 pounds of the delicious roots! Anyway, faced with a shortage of protein options for dinner other than farm-fresh eggs, I decided to finally try the quinoa crust for a dinner quiche.
I gathered up ingredients that I thought would go well together—a bundle of small leeks, a red onion, 2 cloves of garlic, a pile of kale from the backyard, two sweet potatoes, eggs, some frozen sweet corn from the summer, and half and half. I used a sprinkling of Parmesan and some dried thyme for additional flavor and baked up two quiche, one for dinner and one for lunch today with a friend.
And guess what? The quinoa is totally soft, yet sturdy as a base! It seems incredible that this actually works—especially if you are eating gluten free because this is, hands down, the simplest crust method ever. Sure, you miss out on the flavor-boost that a buttery crust can provide, but you make up for it in nutrition, ease, and general delight that you don’t have to spend any time rolling out pastry.
Quinoa-Crusted Quiche with Sweet Potatoes, Kale, and Sweet Corn
Crust adapted from this Diabetic Living recipe.
Makes one 9-inch quiche
Serves 4 (or 3 hungry mouths!)
Nonstick spray or 1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup raw quinoa*
1 medium sweet potatoes
3-4 small leeks (or 1-2 large), washed well
1 small red onion
1 cloves garlic
2 cups diced kale (I used lacinato, but curly would also work)
1/2 cup frozen sweet corn kernels
1/2 cup half and half (or milk)
1 tsp dried thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Spray a 9-inch pie plate with nonstick spray or brush with olive oil. Pour the quinoa into the plate and use a fork to press it into the base and up the sides, doing your best to cover it completely (though a few holes are just fine).
2. Peel and slice the sweet potatoes into 1/4-1/2 inch rounds. Place into a pot, add water just to cover, and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook until just softened, about 10 minutes (though check them regularly and stop earlier if they are done!). When ready, drain and set aside.
3. Meanwhile, thinly slice the leeks, dice the onion, and smash and mince the garlic. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil and 1 tbsp butter over medium heat in a large skillet. Add the leeks, onion, and garlic and saute until the onion starts to become translucent, 5-7 minutes. Add a sprinkling of salt and pepper. Stir in the kale and the sweet corn. Add the thyme. As soon as the kale starts to wilt, turn off the heat.
4. Beat the eggs lightly with the half and half.
5. Arrange a layer of sweet potato slices on top of the quinoa on the bottom of the pie plate, overlapping slightly. Add the onion-kale mixture on top and sprinkle with Parmesan if desired. Finally, pour on the egg mixture to cover the vegetables. Bake for 50 minutes or until lightly brown and set. Serve warm or at room temperature.
*Everyone is always saying that you need to rinse your quinoa before using it to remove some of the bitterness. Honestly, I’ve never noticed much of a difference so I skip it—do what most makes you happy!
Variations: Add 1/2 cup of shredded cheddar or Gruyere; Use 1 tsbp fresh thyme instead of dried; Use spinach, chard, or even arugula in place of the kale; Add 1/2 cup of crumbled, crisp-cooked bacon to the mixture.