Egg casseroles are a Midwestern staple, usually heavy on cubed bread and cheese. So what’s the reason for their popularity? Well, they’re quick and easy to mix up and always a hit at brunch. Who wouldn’t love the combination of those two things?
Growing up, I would’ve thought a quiche was fancy… or at least sounded fancy. And we all know that the fanciness of a name determines its level of difficulty, right? As I grew into adulthood, I realized that most dishes I thought of as elevated were really just the original dishes that these beloved Midwest staples were derived from. So it turns out that egg casseroles are really a quiche’s estranged cousin.
Casseroles are delicious and have their place, but can easily lose their true flavor with the overpowering addition of heavy ingredients such as bread and cheese. A quiche, with a simple crust, can let the right ingredients shine through and is truly no more effort than a throw-together casserole.
The crust of a quiche can be as simple as your favorite pie crust or as complex as a laminated criossant dough. I chose a take on pie crust, but with the addition of cream cheese. Cream cheese in pastry dough helps to make it foolproof. The crust becomes sturdier and more forgiving when rolling out. If the dough cracks or splits, the added fat from the cream cheese makes it easy to push back together while still giving that flaky finish.
A quiche traditionally has a custard filling made with eggs and cream. To bolster that, cream cheese again provides a behind the scenes starring role. French quiches often have crème fraîche added, giving it a rich and smooth outcome. Since crème fraîche is not as easy to purchase, cream cheese offers much of the same richness with a hint of tang to offset the added fat.
The add-ins for a quiche can be adjusted to suit any personal preference. My recipe has some of my favorites:
- Sweet potato adds sweetness without too much heaviness and blends well with bacon.
- Leeks are my go-to with eggs. As opposed to most onions, leeks have a softer onion-like flavor that isn’t as astringent.
- No cheese is necessary since the cream and cream cheese provide all the needed creaminess.
The finished quiche is rich and light at the same time. After you try this, you’ll agree that it’s the perfect breakfast, brunch, or lunch.
Watch how to make this sweet potato quiche:
Spinach, Bacon & Sweet Potato Quiche
For the crust
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 4 oz cream cheese, cold and cut into four pieces
- 6 tbsp unsalted butter, cold and cut into tbsp-size pieces
- 5-7 tbsp ice-cold water
For the filling
- 1 leek, cut in half lengthwise and sliced
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- ½ lb sweet potato, cut into ⅛- to ¼-inch pieces
- ¾ cup frozen spinach, thawed
- 5 slices bacon, cooked and chopped
- 4 oz cream cheese, room temperature
- 4 eggs
- ⅔ cup whole milk
- ¼ cup heavy cream
For the crust
- In a food processor, combine the flour, salt, cream cheese, and butter. Pulse until the cream cheese and butter are combined with the flour and become the size of a pea or smaller.
- While pulsing the processor, slowly add water until the dough just begins to hold together.
- On a lightly floured surface, work the dough into a disk, kneading lightly. Roll into a 12-inch circle. Fit into a pie dish. Roll excess dough under and crimp edges. Freeze shell 20 minutes or up to one month if wrapped in an airtight container.
- To prebake crust, preheat oven to 375°F. Line crust with parchment and fill to the top with pie weights or dried beans.
- Bake in the preheated oven until the edges are set and golden, 12-15 minutes. Remove parchment and weights and continue baking until the bottom of the crust is dry and golden, an additional 12-15 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside to make the filling. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F.
For the filling
- Over medium heat, saute leek with salt and pepper in 1 tablespoon oil until translucent, 2 minutes. Add finely diced sweet potato and saute until just tender, 10-12 minutes. Add the frozen spinach and cook off any moisture, 3 minutes.
- Remove from heat and add room temperature cream cheese and bacon. Stir until the cream cheese melts into the mixture then set aside.
- In a bowl, combine the eggs, milk, and cream. Season with salt and pepper. Whisk together and stir in the sauteed items mixed with cream cheese. Pour into prebaked crust.
- Bake until the edges of the filling are set and the center jiggles slightly, 20-28 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for 20 minutes before slicing.