This post is by far my most anticipated ever since I started this blog, and definitely worth the addition of the word “freakin’” in the title (although I could not be persuaded to omit the apostrophe; I may be down with the kids but practising good punctuation skills will always remain important to me).
A while ago I wanted to make quiche, but remained wary as pastry is so high in fat. Add in the sheer amount of egg and cheese that makes up any quiche filling, and you’ve got this health-conscious calorie-phobe’s worst nightmare. I remained, however, determined to satisfy my quiche-craving without enraging my arteries; to “have my quiche and eat it too” so to speak, so I typed “healthy alternatives to pastry” into Google. Good old Internet, you are indeed ripe with all the secrets of the universe, always ready and waiting for when I so often turn my hand to purging the baking world of all its saturated fat, sugar and calories (oh alright, I’ll leave some).
It’s pastry. Made with LENTILS. I have no idea why it’s taken me so long to try this ! (See, they use the word “freak” too ! Must be a lentil thing…)
By making the crust with lentils instead of using traditional pastry, you not only drastically reduce the calorie and fat levels, but get a whole load of extra protein into the bargain (which promotes post-meal satiety, meaning no biscuit-cravings !). And I promise you it’s tasty too !
So tonight I made vegetarian quiche with caramelized onion, spinach, mushroom, red pepper and tomatoes. You can put in pretty much anything you want once you’ve made the filling; for example, chop up sausages or bacon to fry with the onions, or substitute the cheddar for goat’s cheese (I almost did this). Just some ideas…
I got really nervous making this for some reason. I think it was because I’ve never heard of making pie crust out of lentils before; I had no idea how it was going to turn out and had kind of amalgamated several recipes together, as well as my own basic quiche-knowledge, and I guess I just really, really wanted it to work. Basically this is a long-winded way of excusing my sub-par photography skills tonight (apart from the ones that Tom took).
Anyway, here’s what I did through the blurry lens of my over-zealous photography attempts:
Lentil Freakin’ Pastry
125g of orange lentils
50g of porridge oats
1 tbsp of tomato puree
340ml of (soy*) milk
½ a red onion
60g of grated cheddar cheese
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
Handful of fresh basil (if you have it)
What to do:
First, start to caramelise the onion in olive oil. Place in a saucepan on a fairly low heat and cover. Stir occasionally to avoid too much blackening and stickiness.
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees and grease a flan/quiche dish, or line it with foil and grease that instead. I don’t have a flan dish but I do have 2 slightly smaller bendy plastic cake ‘tins,’ I foiled one and left the other as an experiment and hoped for the best (ie. not a repetition of the cake-biscuit incident).
For the crust:
Boil the lentils in twice their volume of water for about 10 minutes. I have no idea how this is worked out – baking FAIL ! Best to start with not enough water and add more than to have too much, I thought, and I did have to keep putting tiny splashes in every now and then to keep it moist enough. If the mixture does end up too watery you can always add more oats.
Stir, mash, pound, grind (and any other dubious adjectives that come to mind) the lentils continuously as they boil to form a thick paste, then add the oats, tomato puree and seasoning (salt, pepper and a bit of oregano for me).
It should form a sticky (yet un-kneadable) ‘dough.’ I had to mash at it with my spoon for AAAGES before it became pulpy enough to transfer to the dish.
Press into quiche dish and cook at about 200 degrees for 5-10 minutes, just until it starts to firm.
For the filling:
While you are waiting for the crust to get crusty, beat the eggs and milk together and season with salt, pepper and whatever else you like (I tore up some basil, natch, and added some cayenne pepper).
Take the crust out of the oven. The onions should be just about done (they should be soft and, well, caramelised).
Add the garlic to the onions and a splash of balsamic vinegar for extra flavour and cook for a few more minutes before you take them off the heat, makes ‘em zingeeh !
Distribute the onions and sprinkle the cheese over the top. This would be a good point to also add anything else you’re planning on putting in your quiche.
Pour over the egg and milk mixture and return to oven to bake for about 45 minutes at 200 degrees, making sure the filling is cooked through by gently pressing the top and making sure it is springy (no runny egg left schlepping around).
I just made pie base out of lentils. Okay, so you can’t see the ‘crust’ as the mixture wouldn’t hold its own enough for me to line the sides with it, but luckily I ended up using about 5 million eggs which allowed the filling to stand up all on its own ! The base was still very moist when I got it out of the dish, but no stick-age !
I now have a MOTHER-LOAD of quiche to get through this week.
1/6 of this quiche (or 2 small quiches in my case) if you don’t count the vegetables contains 154 calories. It’s okay, you can thank me later (when you’ve finished gorging on guilt-free vegetable-plenty pastry-void quiche).
So, uh… I’m having a third of this for dinner. DON’T JUDGE ME.
I also made this for afters.
Microwave-baked apple with figs and honey
I do spoil myself sometimes…
Lots of love,
*The reason I use soy milk is not because I’m a vegan. I’m not (if you hadn’t already noticed, what with the amount of time I spend raving about cheese and eggs). I went through a non-dairy spell due to some skin-related issues, and have never quite been able to return to real milk. I just prefer soy, plus its lower cal, higher protein than dairy milk, and doesn’t taste like you’re putting cheese on your cereal. Just ma opinion.