LOCAL GOODNESS: If you don’t have time to make your own quiche, many local eateries offer the protein-packed finger food by the slice for a grab-and-go meal. Pictured is a piece of spinach-feta quiche from City Bakery. Photo by Nathan Metcalf

I once read a science fiction novel where quiche was the pizza of the future. I don't remember much else about the book, but the quiche idea stuck with me. The beauty of quiche, much like pizza, is that you can eat it with your hands. What differentiates it from pizza is the protein-and-veggie-to-carbohydrate ratio. While pizza is basically carb city with a few veggies or pieces of meat thrown on top for flavor and decoration, quiche is potentially a powerhouse of nutrition. I usually stuff mine full of lightly steamed broccoli and sprinkle in some bacon or smoked trout for flavor (if you are vegetarian, I bet that tempeh fakin' bacon would be tasty).

I've been refining my approach to quiche over the past several months in the hopes of turning it from a special-occasion meal to an every week kind of deal. In general, I try to create healthy meals that cost as little as possible without sacrificing quality or flavor. As a busy parent, I'm also looking for recipes that are hassle-free and consumed by the short people without complaint.

My French mother's method of baking a crust from scratch is out of the question for most of us (except perhaps on special occasions) because it is time-consuming, unpredictable and less than healthy. Premade pie crusts solve the convenience issue, if not the health concern. The key to using them is precooking the crust enough that the bottom isn't soggy, but not so much that the sides burn before the egg is cooked. Easier said than done.

I've seen pie rings that cover the sides, and I keep thinking I want one, but I've figured out a method that works without them. Put a cookie sheet on the lowest oven rack, then place the pie pan directly on the cookie sheet. Check the crust frequently and use a fork to poke extra holes wherever it puffs up. Once the bottom of the crust is cooked, add your choice of fillings and beaten eggs then cook at 350 degrees until the eggs are set.

The store-made crusts from the natural foods store cost about $5 for two. The quality of the oils we eat is really important to our family, so while in theory I could find them cheaper at the regular grocery store, those don't pass the test for regular consumption. I did try a gluten-free crust once. Once. I threw away the second one in the package of two. Hopefully there are better brands, but the one I tried tasted like cardboard and felt like sand. If your family avoids gluten, it may be worth it for you to try a few different brands — or you can try my latest discovery: crustless quiche.

While the protein/carb ratio is already better in quiche than pizza, I recently realized that I could make the quiche cheaper, quicker and healthier by removing the crust. I know some purists will be offended by the very idea of a quiche without a crust. Fine. Call it a frittata if you must, but if you want a healthy food you can eat with your hands, reheat easily and pack full of veggies, this fits the bill. To make it yourself, simply oil a pie dish, add your fillings and pour blended eggs and spices on top (cream optional). Bake the whole thing as you would a regular quiche.

— Mado


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