We are entering our third week of unpacking. We had thought that by now we would be able to have Carol and her family over for our alternating family Sunday dinner. Unfortunately that was not to be although our kitchen is in good enough order to do some cooking. This week I was scheduled to make the main dish and sides. Carol was scheduled to make appetizers and dessert. The modified modified plan was for me to cook in our kitchen and then take it to Carol’s house for the dinner.
Carol made some outstanding appetizers and a delicious bread pudding (I forgot to make the promised whiskey sauce, but not to worry – there was whipped cream and/or ice cream to substitute.) Carol calls the appetizers puff pastry pinwheels. She had two kinds: pesto and sun-dried tomato. She says that the family’s favorite is prosciutto. It would have to be great to beat the two that she baked. Her bread pudding was made from an extra Christmas panettone augmented with chocolate and raisins.
For the main dish I roasted a whole chicken along with Hasselbach potatoes. The challenge was the green vegetable. This time of year you can always find broccoli, broccolini, and green beans, but for me they have worn out their welcome. I know that summer squash is out of season, but in Southern California everything seems to be in season all year long. Unfortunately zucchini often cooks up watery with not much color. I decided to combine it with another watery vegetable but with more color: spinach. And mushrooms. Cheese and mushrooms sounded like good additions, and suddenly you have the makings of a quiche. The crust was definitely too much effort and too filling for a side dish, but the stand-alone filling sounded good.
Here’s the whole menu – puff pastry pinwheels, roast chicken, Hasselbach potatoes, zucchini-spinach un-quiche, and panettone bread pudding.
Zucchini and Spinach Un-Quiche
- 3 medium zucchini
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 generous handfuls, more or less, fresh baby spinach
- 5 crimini mushrooms, sliced
- salt and pepper
- 2 tablespoons Pernod
- 2 ounces Swiss cheese, coarsely grated
- 3 eggs, well beaten
- 1 cup heavy cream
- ¼ cup panko
- ¼ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- Wash the zucchini and cut off the stems. Grate with the coarse side of a box grater. In a clean towel or with clean hands, squeeze as much liquid as you can from the grated zucchini.
- Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large sauté pan. Add the grated squash and sauté until the squash gives up its liquid. Then add the spinach and cook until the leaves are completely wilted and they have given up their liquid. Add the mushrooms and sauté for another 3-5 minutes. Correct the seasoning with salt and pepper. Add Pernod
- Transfer the mixture to a strainer. Drain. Use a heavy spoon to press out as much moisture as you can. Place in a well-buttered 2 quart baking dish or soufflé bowl. Top with grated Swiss cheese.
- Combine the well-beaten eggs and cream. Add a little bit more salt and pepper. Pour over the zucchini/spinach mixture and stir until well combined. Sprinkle the top with panko and grated Parmesan cheese. Dot with butter.
- Bake in the middle of an oven preheated to 350°F for 1 hour or until bubbling and well-browned. Remove from the oven, cool for 5 minutes, and serve while still warm.
- The casserole will deflate as it cools. It will not reinflate with reheating, but it will still taste good if it is rewarmed.
- You can turn this into quiche by baking it in a blind-baked pie shell at the same temperature for the same time.
- You can turn it into a soufflé by separating the eggs, combining yolks with the cream, and gently folding in the stiffly-beaten egg whites. Use the same time and temperature.