Saturday, May 28, 2011

Crustless Zucchini and Basil Mini-Quiches

You guys, this was the best recipe of the week! It was a bit of a surprise, because zucchini is hit-or-miss with me, and also because mini-quiches are somewhat hard to work into the menu. They would be great for brunch, or as a side-dish with one or two kinds of salads. You can make them ahead of time and freeze them, or eat them right away too. My mini-muffin pan is made of silicone, and therefore whatever is in the tray pops out very easily with minimal mess; if this is not the case for you and the quiches end up sticking a bit, just put the whole tray in the freezer; the quiches should come out more easily after that.

I used Swiss cheese (usually naturally lactose-free), and it melts in the bottom of the quiche to form a bit of a crust, completely gluten-free of course. As a substitute for cream, I wasn’t sure what to use. Some quiches work out just fine if you omit the cream; with others, you have to increase the amount of cheese or egg yolks. In this case, I wanted to find a lactose-free alternative, and the creamers weren’t going to cut it: I needed something thicker. I did a search online, and the one suggestion that kept coming up was to make “cream” by processing cashews and water together. Since I had cashews left over from a previous recipe, that’s what I did, and it worked out great! Of course, if you’re avoiding nuts, you can use another substitute. And don’t skimp on the fresh basil!

¼ cup cornstarch
1 ¼ cup whole milk
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1 cup heavy cream substitute (such as ½ cup cashews processed with ½ cup water)
¾ tsp kosher salt
1/8 tsp nutmeg
oil for the pan
1 Tbsp olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 shallots, minced
2 zucchinis, grated
¼ cup gruyère or Swiss cheese, grated
fresh basil, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 450 °F.

Put the cornstarch in a medium bowl. Whisking steadily, slowly pour in ½ cup of the milk, mixing until quite smooth. Whisk in the whole eggs and egg yolks, mixing again until smooth, then gradually whisk in the rest of the milk, the cream substitute, salt, and nutmeg. Use immediately or refrigerate, covered, for up to one day. If using the next day, be sure to re-whisk.

In a nonstick pan, heat oil over medium heat. Add garlic and shallots and stir until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add grated zucchini, and stir until just softened, another 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat.

Oil mini muffin tins well. Put a pinch grated cheese into each muffin cup, a teaspoon of zucchini mixture, and pinch of chopped fresh basil. Pour 1 tablespoon of the batter into each muffin cup.

Bake until the quiches puff and start to turn golden, 15-18 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes and then carefully run a paring knife around the rim of each muffin cup. Carefully lift each quiche out of its cup.

Mini quiches freeze very well. Let cool, then freeze in a single layer in a covered container. Reheat on a cookie sheet in a 400 °F oven for about 5-10 minutes.

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