Gluten-free asparagus quiche made with leeks, Gruyere cheese, and a hash browns crust — lightened with egg whites and low-fat milk.
Quiche is the quintessential spring brunch dish. And asparagus is one of the first spring vegetables to show up at the market. So I like to kick off spring with Asparagus Quiche.
This year I wanted to lighten it up.
Ways To Lighten up Quiche
Use a combination of eggs and egg whites in place of all whole eggs.
- When I want a rich egg-y quiche, I use a ratio of 4 whole eggs + 1 yolk for every 1 cup of milk or cream. For this Asparagus Quiche, I swapped out the extra yolk for 2 egg whites. To further lighten this quiche, go to 3 whole eggs and 2 egg whites.
- For every egg yolk eliminated, you save 4.5 grams of fat and 55 calories.
Swap out heavy cream for a combination of half & half and milk.
- This recipe uses a combination of half & half and 2% milk in equal amounts.
- 1 cup of heavy cream is nearly 470 calories and 46 grams of fat. Substituting equal amounts of Half & Half and 2% milk reduces this to 208 calories and 19 grams of fat.
- I didn't do that with this recipe since my family would die for hash browns, but it's easily done. Just pour the egg mixture directly into the pan. Bake at 350˚F for 35 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the middle comes out clean.
Use good cheese.
- The cheese is important to this dish, and low-fat cheese can be rubbery in texture and a little lacking in flavor. So I get good cheese and look for vegetarian cheese using a vegetable rennet whenever possible.
- Always grate your own cheese. Pre-grated cheese is drier in texture, and typically coated with cellolose to keep it from clumping. This all serves to mute the flavors.
Which Asparagus To Use in an Asparagus Quiche
A popular question is when to use thinner asparagus stalks and when to use the fat ones. The flavor is the same, but the thin stalks are slightly more fibrous and a little sweeter. Fatter spears are more tender and have a meatier flavor. Therefore, I recommend medium or fat asparagus spears for a quiche. I want as tender an asparagus as I can get for a quiche.
Pro-tip: Split, excessively woody stems are a sign of older asparagus. Look for spears that are fresh and plump from top to bottom.
How To Prep Asparagus
- Wash the spears under running water to remove any grit.
- Snap each spear. They'll break naturally at the point where the tough woody part of the spear begins. This is typically the bottom third of the spear. Discard the woody part.
- Slice each spear into thin discs roughly 1/4″ thick.
Tips for Success When Making Asparagus Quiche
Roasting the asparagus and leeks before adding them to the quiche intensifies their flavors, and this can be done ahead or done in a pan over medium-high heat.
If you prefer, make this quiche with a pastry crust or bake it without any crust.
Arrange all the layers individually for an even distribution of cheese and veggies.
Cool the quiche for at least 10 minutes after baking to allow the eggs to set up. But serving quiche at room temperature is best.
Gruyere Swiss cheese is my favorite in this dish, but Fontina works very well too. Just be sure to grate it fresh.
If you want to make this asparagus quiche ahead, you can either serve it at room temperature the day of your brunch, or cover and refrigerate it for up to 2 days. Reheat it in a 325˚F oven for 15 minutes.
The cooking times in the recipe are for an 8″ quiche. If you use a 10″ pan, add 10 minutes to the baking time.
Light Asparagus Quiche + Hash-Browns Crust
- 2 1/2 cups shredded frozen hash brown potatoes, thawed 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, sliced 1/4" thick
- 1/2 cup thinly sliced leeks, white and light green parts only
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin 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 freshly grated Swiss cheese
- 1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg
- Preheat oven to 425°F.
- Press the hash browns into an 8 or 9-inch pie plate, making sure to work them up the sides of the dish. Drizzle with the melted butter, and lightly salt (roughly 1/2 teaspoon) and pepper (roughly 1/4 teaspoon).
- 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 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 for at least 15 minutes before slicing into wedges. Ideally, cool to room temperature before cutting.
If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #wimpyvegetarian on Instagram. I'd love to see what you cook!