This Dinner Together almost didn’t come together at all.
I scorched my pinky. I neglected the kids’ dinner. I nearly roasted the tomatillos into oblivion. Despite the challenges, the final result was delicious.
During a recent trip to Portland, we ate at the Bread and Ink Cafe in the Hawthorne District. The special that day was a tomatillo quiche, served on a polenta crust. I liked the way the flavors of the tart tomatillo and creamy, comforting polenta worked together for a hearty brunch dish.
Since it was vegetarian-friendly, gluten-free and inexpensive, I wanted to recreate it for Dinner Together. (It was also served with an amazing frisee salad topped with a warm maple and bacon vinaigrette, but I digress…)
I started by roasting the tomatillos and onions in the oven. I halved the tomatillos and sliced the onions and popped them into the oven at 400 degrees. Keep an eye on the tomatillos. If you’re not vigilant, they’ll collapse into a mushy heap and you won’t have much left to chop. (More on that later.)
I found recipes for polenta crust easily, and it worked well in my 10-inch ceramic quiche dish. Be sure to cook polenta until it comes together in a cohesive ball in your saucepan or it will be hard to get it to hold its shape up the sides of the quiche pan. Once the crust is pressed into the pan, it bakes in the oven for a few minutes to brown the edges, but don’t expect it to get crisp like a traditional flour crust.
After the crust came out of the oven, I chopped the roasted tomatillos and onions and spread them evenly in the crust. Then, I added half a small can of roasted green chilies, some sharp cheddar cheese and roasted red pepper strips. The egg and milk mixture is then poured over the crust and filling before it is finally baked.
The beauty of this dish is that it is infinitely flexible. If you’re making it for meat lovers, try adding cooked chorizo to the filling. Leave out the cheese if you want. Skip tomatillos if they sound too unfamiliar. Or, change up the entire dish with a different array of fillings altogether. The Daring Gourmet at www.daringgourmet.com has a great step-by-step tutorial of a Bacon, Leek and Tomato Quiche with polenta crust on the blog.
Since I wasn’t paying attention the night I made this dish, half of my tomatillos had collapsed into a bubbly heap by the time I checked on them in the oven. I chopped the tomatillos that were still holding together and added them to the filling of my quiche, then started to scrape the rest into the compost pile. On a whim, I put them into the food processor instead, added about half a small can of roasted green chilies and some salt and pepper. Once they were whirled together and seasoned, the resulting sauce was a delicious accompaniment, along with cilantro and avocado slices.
Tomatillo, Green Chili and Roasted Red Pepper Quiche with Polenta Crust
For the roasted vegetables:
8 tomatillos, halved
1/2 small yellow onion, sliced
For the polenta crust:
1 3/4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 cup medium or coarsely ground cornmeal
1 tablespoon butter
For the filling:
2 ounces canned roasted green chilies
2 ounces roasted red pepper strips
1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese or any flavorful cheese
1 cup milk
1/4 teaspoons salt
Black pepper, to taste
To roast the tomatillos and onions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place the tomatillos, cut side down on a foil-lined baking sheet. Place sliced onion next to the tomatillos. Roast for 15 minutes, or until the tomatillos have softened and the skins are beginning to brown. Onions should be softened and beginning to brown. Remove from oven and cool. Chop tomatillos.
To make the crust: In a medium saucepan, bring the broth to a boil. Add cornmeal in a gradual stream, whisking constantly to prevent lumps. Add the butter. Reduce heat to low and continue cooking, whisking frequently for about 15 to 20 minutes, until the polenta pulls away from the sides of the pan into a firm, sticky mass.
Grease a 10-inch quiche pan and press the polenta mixture into it and up the sides.
In a preheated oven, bake the polenta crust at 400 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes, until slightly crispy on the edges. Allow crust to cool.
Arrange the roasted tomatillos, onions, green chilies and red pepper strips over the crust.
In a medium bowl, combine the eggs, milk, salt and black pepper and whisk until smooth.
Sprinkle filling with half of the cheese and then pour the egg and milk mixture over it. Top with remaining cheese.
Bake the quiche in a 325-degree oven for 35 to 40 minutes or until golden brown on top and the middle of the quiche is firm.
Serve with chopped cilantro and avocado slices.
Yield: 6 servings
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