Quiche was all the rage when l began cooking in my first apartment some 40 years ago. Creamy, cheesy and rich, it is endlessly adaptable to all sorts of vegetables, smoked meats and herbs. Make it vegetarian and it will still satisfy even the hungriest omnivore.

Easy to create and inexpensive, quiche is one of those dishes you can serve at brunch, lunch or for a casual supper. Prepare it a day ahead of time to reheat at the last moment or offer at room temperature.

Surprisingly, the classic quiche Lorraine that originated in medieval France contains no cheese. But you’ll find British recipes for savory custard pies with lardons and cheese dating back to the 14th century that remain popular in pubs today.

Born of the simplest ingredients, the quiches I now make in my kitchen are much improved thanks to the local farm-fresh eggs, cheeses, smoked meats, vegetables and herbs in our farmers markets and co-ops. Timeless and seasonal, quiche makes a reliable, foolproof, go-to meal.

The best dough for the crust is made with a good-quality local butter. But if you’re in a pinch or want to get fancy, use a frozen puff pastry. Either way, it’s best to bake the crust “blind,” that is, in advance so that it’s firm, and then scatter a little cheese on the bottom to melt into the pastry before adding the filling. This all helps keep the crust from becoming soggy.

The custard requires a balance of eggs and milk, with just the right amount of cheese. Use fresh, local eggs from free-range chickens; their yolks are brighter and more flavorful. Most recipes call for cream, but substituting whole-milk Greek yogurt gives the filling a nice tang without sacrificing richness.

Aged cheeses such as Gruyère or Cheddar are good choices. They’re so flavorful, just a little goes a long way; too much cheese and the quiche will become heavy and rubbery.

I like to add a little browned sausage for heft and the woodsy scents of sage; or use pancetta or bacon. Caramelized onions, roasted garlic, sautéed mushrooms, cooked spinach, kale, broccoli, asparagus or roasted peppers are terrific add-ins; just don’t skimp on the fresh herbs.

Comforting and lush, quiche paired with a bright crisp salad in a tart vinaigrette makes a homey and elegant meal.


Beth Dooley is the author of “In Winter’s Kitchen.” Find her at bethdooleyskitchen.com.