Easy Winter Recipes: Leek Quiche with Thyme and Lavender

Favorite recipes using dried herbs for flavor and convenience.

| February/March 1996

  • Sturdy herbs such as rosemary, thyme, and lavender dry well and add their flavors to these hearty dishes of Country Pea Soup and Leek Quiche.

Serves 6

When you want to mystify people as to the herb used in a dish, try lavender: it will almost always confound, says Maggie Oster, a gardening and cooking expert who divides her time between Palmyra, Indiana, and Louisville, Kentucky. The bittersweet flavor of lavender flowers enhances salads, egg dishes, soups, or desserts. They retain their flavor well when dried.

• 1 9-inch unbaked pie shell (below)
• 1 1/4 cups grated gruyère, emmenthaler, or swiss cheese, divided
• 2 tablespoons butter
• 1 tablespoon canola oil
• 12 ounces leeks, cut into 1/2-inch slices
• 2 teaspoons dried thyme
• 1/2 cup dry white wine
• 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
• 1 cup heavy cream
• 1 tablespoon dried lavender flowers
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
• 1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg
• 1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line the pastry shell with parchment paper and add 1/2 inch or so of pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 15 minutes; remove the weights and parchment, reduce the heat to 325°F, and bake 8 minutes longer, or until the bottom is dry. Sprinkle 1/4 cup grated cheese over the bottom of the crust and bake 5 minutes longer, or until the cheese is melted. Remove from the oven and cool.

2. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat the butter and oil until the foaming subsides. Add the leeks and sauté, stirring, for 5 minutes, or until they are soft. Stir in the thyme and sauté for 2 minutes, or until it is fragrant. Stir in the wine, reduce the heat to medium, and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes, or until the liquid is gone. Set aside and cool to room temperature.

3. In a large bowl, combine the eggs, cream, lavender, remaining grated cheese, salt, pepper, nutmeg, and cayenne pepper. Stir in the cooled leek mixture. Pour the filling into the crust and bake for 35 minutes, or until the top is just set. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Single-Crust Pie Shell

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