Asparagus comes into season in May. Not only is asparagus a sublime vegetable when lightly boiled or steamed, it can also be used as the basis for other dishes, such as this colourful quiche.
You can vary the herbs and vegetables according to taste and availability, or add a rasher or two of chopped bacon (fry it along with the onion) if wished. The quiche goes well with bread and a green salad on a hot day, or with new potatoes and salad or vegetables (more asparagus?), as you choose.
This quantity should serve four.
For the shortcrust pastry:
4 oz (approx 100 g) plain flour
1 oz (approx 25 g) butter
1 oz (approx 25 g) lard
For the filling:
Half a small onion, or 3-4 spring onions
4-6 oz (approx 100 – 150 g) asparagus spears
One red pepper
2 oz (approx 50 g) mushrooms (optional)
3 oz (approx 75 g) cheese
Approx 1 Tablespoon (1 x 15 ml spoon) fresh parsley or oregano (or 1 teaspoon [1 x 5ml spoon] dried)
5 fl oz (approx 140 ml) milk
To make the pastry:
Grease a flan dish approximately 7 inches (approx 18 cm) diameter.
Rub the butter and lard into the flour until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
Gradually add cold water to mix to a soft dough. If it is floury, you need a little more water, if it is sticky, you have added too much water and need to add a bit more flour. Or you can use ready-made pastry if you prefer.
Roll out the pastry to a circle big enough to line the greased flan tin. Line the flan tin with the pastry and trim off any surplus.
To make the filling:
Peel and chop the onion. Remove the seeds from the red pepper and cut into dice about half an inch (approx 1 cm) square. Peel and slice the mushrooms, if using. Wash and chop the fresh herbs.
Grate the cheese.
Wash the asparagus. Cut the top 3 inches or so off each spear and set aside. Slice the remaining asparagus stalks.
Fry the chopped onion in cooking oil over a medium heat for a few minutes until softened. Add the sliced asparagus stalks, diced red pepper and sliced mushrooms (if using) and continue frying for a few more minutes until the vegetables are softened and starting to colour.
Remove from the heat and stir in the chopped herbs. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Spread the vegetables evenly in the bottom of the flan case. Sprinkle the grated cheese on top.
Arrange the reserved asparagus tips in an attractive pattern on the top of the flan, like the spokes on a wheel (or any other pattern you choose).
Beat the egg into the milk, and pour the mixture into the flan case.
Bake in a moderately hot oven, about 180 C, for about 25 – 30 minutes until the filling is set and golden.
Serve hot, warm or cold with bread or new potatoes and a salad or vegetables of your choice.
The quiche will keep in the fridge for a day or two, or can be frozen.