Gluten-free asparagus quiche made with leeks, Gruyere cheese, and a hash browns bottom — lightened with egg whites and low-fat milk.
As a Buddhist, Easter may not look like one of my holidays, but you would be wrong. Easter represents hope and new beginnings to me, things we all relate to, and this year, I’m more aware of this than ever.
We continue to create a new life for ourselves in the Northern Sierras, and although we’ve been part-year residents for several years, this is our first spring here. So far, and yes it’s still early days, I’ve decided we should have a 5th season here – a season that’s not quite full-on winter with 10 feet of snow falling every freaking day, but not yet spring. It’s the point where you wake from a deep slumber, rubbing your eyes and stretching your limbs, but not quite ready to spring out of bed.
Instead of the abundance of blooms and leafing that seemingly explodes overnight in March and April in Northern California, here in the mountains, spring is an exercise in patience. Life is more visually subtle; the unfurling inside tentative buds much slower. Is this slow pace of nature waking up a subliminal message that serves to relax me here? Maybe, but I can also tell you spring is noisy here. Woodpeckers wake us every morning, and the melt is in full force, with the sound of water pouring down drains, spilling off roofs, and rushing over rock-filled streambeds everywhere into the Lake.
And then it happens. Suddenly, out of nowhere, daffodils bravely rise up through last week’s flurry of snow to remind us that even when everything seems dead, there is the promise of regeneration and beauty.
However you’re spending your Easter Sunday, I hope it’s full of these things for you too. One of my annual traditions from childhood is Easter brunch. I love to throw them and go to them. If you’re planning on a brunch this year, here are some last-minute, make-ahead dishes to serve. They’re guaranteed to allow you to relax today, no matter how many people are coming over.
Tips for Success
Arrange all the layers individually for a nice layered quiche, and an even distribution of cheese and veggies.
Allow the quiche to cool for at least 10 minutes to allow the eggs to set up, although serving quiche at room temperature is best.
Gruyere Swiss cheese is my favorite in this dish, but Fontina works very well too.
As noted in the recipe, if you want to make this ahead, you can either serve it at room temperature the day of your brunch, or reheat it in 325˚F oven for 15 minutes.
The cooking times are for an 8″ quiche. If you use a 10″ pan, add 10 minutes onto your baking time.
Light Asparagus-Gruyere Quiche with Hash-Brown Crust
- 2 1/2 cups shredded frozen hash brown potatoes I use Ore-Ida
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt divided
- 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, divided
- 1 cup thinly sliced asparagus
- 1/2 cup thinly sliced leeks
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 large eggs
- 2 egg whites
- 1/2 cup half-and-half
- 1/2 cup 2% milk
- 1 teaspoon mustard powder
- 1/2 cup grated Swiss cheese
- Preheat oven to 425°F.
- Press the hash browns into an 8-inch pie plate, making sure to work it up the sides of the plate. Drizzle with the melted butter, and lightly salt (roughly 1/2 teaspoon) and pepper (roughly 1/4 teaspoon).
- Toss the leeks and asparagus with olive oil and arrange on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Slide into the oven, along with the hash browns, and bake for 20 minutes.
- Whisk the eggs, egg whites, half-and-half, milk, mustard powder, remaining 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in another large bowl.
- When the hash browns and veggies are finished cooking, lower the oven temperature to 350˚F, and arrange the asparagus and leeks evenly on top of the hash browns. Sprinkle the cheese on top of the vegetables. Pour the egg mixture over it all. Grate fresh nutmeg across the top just before sliding the pie plate back into the oven.
- Bake until quiche at 350˚F until a knife inserted in the middle is clean when removed. At high altitude (6500 ft) it took me 30-35 minutes. At sea level, I recommend checking it at 25 minutes.
- Let cool to room temperature before cutting into wedges and serving from the pan.