There is nothing better than a delicious, homemade pie. It starts with a crust that is rich, flaky and oh-so-buttery, and ends with a filling that is equally as scrumptious. I love the versatility of pie and celebrate the ways that we can enjoy it every season. With fresh berries and stone fruits on their way out, gorgeous vegetables are still plentiful at our local farmers’ markets. Which means it is the season for savory pies, as evidenced by this delectable Red Pepper and Summer Squash Quiche.

The inspiration for this particular quiche came by request from one of my regular SarahBakes clients who requested a vegetarian option. A visit to the Northern Plains Farmers Market at West Acres provided everything I needed to create this pie – fresh zucchini and yellow squash, along with the most amazing red bell peppers you can find this side of Sicily (thanks to farmer Austin and the team at Bill Erbes Farms).

The secret to this quiche is to cut all the veggies the same size to ensure even distribution and flavor in every bite. Chopping vegetables can seem like a chore to the uninitiated, but all it takes is a little know-how to feel like a pro. To make this task as easy as possible, this recipe includes simple steps for dicing the pepper, zucchini and squash, courtesy of my chef-husband Tony, as well as pictures to walk you through each step.

To ensure great flavor and texture, the fresh vegetable medley gets a quick sauté before assembling the quiche. 
 Sarah Nasello / The Forum
To ensure great flavor and texture, the fresh vegetable medley gets a quick sauté before assembling the quiche. Sarah Nasello / The Forum

Once the veggies are prepped, I sauté them in canola oil for just a few minutes to soften their bite and enhance their flavor. I start with the onion, because it requires the most time, followed by the red pepper and finally the zucchini and squash, which I cook for a minute or so, just until they are al dente. You don’t want raw squash in your quiche, but you definitely don’t want mushy squash, either. After several tests, my recipe includes the timing that works the best for me to achieve the desired result.

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A quiche’s crust is just as important as the filling, and my all-butter, homemade pie crust is a proven winner. While store-bought brands may do the job, my homemade pie crust routinely receives high praise. Just a few weeks ago, a client texted me to share the comments she received when serving this quiche: “The crust is incredible – have you tasted the crust yet?” I confess - as a baker, these are the words I live for.

There is nothing worse than a quiche with a soggy bottom, and to ensure that this doesn’t happen I blind bake the crust before filling it with the quiche ingredients. In addition, as soon as the crust leaves the oven, I brush it with a beaten egg white to seal the crust and prevent any liquid from seeping through.

For even more flavor, the vegetables are complemented by a packaged blend of six Italian cheeses, as well as grated Parmesan cheese. The result is a quiche that tastes so good, even my squash-hating son had seconds.

The world of quiche is incredibly versatile, so before the season is over, take a trip to our local farmers’ markets and find your own inspiration. Or you could just make this delicious Red Pepper and Summer Squash Quiche. Ah, summer.

Savory Vegetable Quiche

Serves: 6 to 8

Ingredients:

1 flaky pie crust (homemade or use a premade crust)

1 egg white, lightly beaten

2 tablespoons canola oil

½ cup zucchini, small-diced, skin-on (see instructions below for slicing)

½ cup yellow squash, small-diced, skin-on (see instructions below for slicing)

½ cup red bell pepper, small-diced (see instructions below for slicing)

1/3 cup red onion, finely chopped

1 tablespoon fresh parsley, finely chopped

½ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon black pepper

3 ounces cream cheese, room temperature

3 large or extra-large eggs

1/3 cup whole milk or half and half

½ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon black pepper

½ cup Italian 6-cheese blend, shredded

¼ cup parmesan cheese, grated

In today's column, Sarah provides simple steps for how to dice a bell pepper and zucchini in six easy steps. Sarah Nasello / The Forum
In today's column, Sarah provides simple steps for how to dice a bell pepper and zucchini in six easy steps. Sarah Nasello / The Forum

To slice the zucchini and yellow squash:

1. Remove the ends and slice each vegetable in half.

2. Use a sharp knife to slice the vegetable lengthwise into strips between ¼ to ½-inch thick, leaving the skin on. You will make 4 cuts around each squash and discard the center flesh/core.

3. Cut each piece lengthwise into strips ¼-inch wide.

4. Dice each strip into ¼-inch cubes.

In today's column, Sarah provides simple steps for how to dice a bell pepper and zucchini in six easy steps. Sarah Nasello / The Forum
In today's column, Sarah provides simple steps for how to dice a bell pepper and zucchini in six easy steps. Sarah Nasello / The Forum

To slice the red bell pepper:

1. Cut the ends off the pepper; save for later use.

2. Make one cut into the pepper, from top to bottom.

3. Lay the pepper onto its side and use the knife to remove the core and inner membranes, rolling the pepper flat as you work.

4. Cut the pepper into 3 or 4 wide pieces.

5. Cut each piece lengthwise into strips ¼-inch wide.

6. Dice each strip into ¼-inch cubes.

To pre-bake the pie crust:

Line a 9-inch pie plate with the pie crust, leaving a one-inch overhang. Crimp the edges using your fingers or a fork. To keep the crust from shrinking as it bakes, let it chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes before baking. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Line the pie crust with a layer of parchment paper and fill with pie weights (rice or dried beans also work), making sure to distribute evenly along the bottom and the sides.

Bake the crust until the edges start to brown, about 13 to 15 minutes. Remove from oven and reduce temperature to 375. Remove the parchment paper and pie weights from the pan.

Cover the edges of the crust with a pie shield or aluminum foil to prevent over-browning. Return the crust to the oven and bake until the bottom and sides begin to turn a light, golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes (times will vary depending on your oven).

Remove crust from oven and use a pastry brush immediately to coat the bottom and sides with the beaten egg white. This will seal the crust and prevent weeping once the quiche is baked.

Let pie crust cool completely before using. Prebaked pie crust may be covered in plastic wrap and stored at room temperature for up to 2 days or frozen for up to 3 months.

To assemble and bake the quiche:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees; line a plate or baking sheet with paper towel and set aside.

In a medium pan, heat the canola oil over medium heat. Add the onions and cook for 2 minutes, stirring often. Add the peppers and continue cooking for 1 minute, stirring occasionally. Add the zucchini and squash; stir to combine and cook for 2 minutes, stirring often, just until they are al dente. Add the parsley, salt and pepper; stir to combine. Taste and add more seasoning as desired.

Transfer the cooked vegetables to the paper-towel lined plate and let sit for 5 minutes to drain the excess oil.

In a large bowl, use a stand or handheld mixer to beat the cream cheese on medium-high speed until smooth and creamy, about 1 to 2 minutes.

Add the eggs one at a time, beating hard after each addition until incorporated. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Add the whole milk, salt and pepper and beat on medium-low speed until well combined.

Fill the cooled pie crust with the veggie mixture, and then sprinkle the Italian and parmesan cheeses evenly over the top. Add the egg mixture and gently shake the pan to evenly distribute.

Cover the edges of the crust with a pie shield or aluminum foil to prevent overbrowning – this can be done at the start or anytime through the baking process.

Bake until the top of the quiche is golden brown, and the center has just a slight jiggle, about 25 to 28 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes before slicing.

Sarah recommends using a packaged blend of six Italian cheeses plus grated parmesan cheese for this quiche recipe. Sarah Nasello / The Forum
Sarah recommends using a packaged blend of six Italian cheeses plus grated parmesan cheese for this quiche recipe. Sarah Nasello / The Forum

To store: Cover the quiche in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 2 months.

Sarah’s Tips:

  • The egg mixture is a base custard that can be used with any combination of ingredients. To change the variety, use measurements similar to the items listed in the recipe.
  • To reheat a whole frozen quiche, bake at 375 degrees until the center is hot, about 45 to 50 minutes. Cover lightly with aluminum foil to keep the top from overbrowning.
  • For easy reheating, freeze individual slices.

Recipe Time Capsule:

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“Home with the Lost Italian” is a weekly column written by Sarah Nasello featuring recipes by her husband, Tony Nasello. The couple owned Sarello’s in Moorhead and lives in Fargo with their son, Giovanni. Readers can reach them at sarahnasello@gmail.com.