The traditional French quiche is a rustic dish, eaten year-round in most regions of France. It’s a particular favorite in French bistros across Paris, where a generous wedge is accompanied by a green salad and a glass of red wine, and almost every local bakery will have several types available as part of the typical lunch offerings. But there is something so comforting about making this buttery, crumbly delight at home, piping hot and fresh from the oven, whether it’s for brunch on the terrace with the family or for last-minute dinner guests.
There are as many ways to put a quiche together as there are months in the year. It can be made with or without a crust. It can fill a large dish or be prepared in individual servings. It can be flat and creamy, or made mountainously airy with beaten egg whites. Every single one of these variations and more can be found in bistros and bakeries across Paris.
But the real magic happens in the choice of ingredients. The basic quiche recipe—pastry, egg and dairy—is easy to adapt according to whim and seasonal availability of ingredients. The most famous incarnation, quiche lorraine, contains delicious nuggets of bacon. In the height of summer you can add fine zucchini slices; you can brighten an autumn version with chunks of roasted butternut squash; it can be warmed up in winter with some crumbly blue cheese; and when spring arrives, it’s hard to resist those crisp spears of asparagus. All these elements make the quiche, as traditional as it may be, a versatile dish that can be reinvented for every occasion.
This version of a traditional quiche combines the delightful spring flavors of asparagus and leek with a little chopped bacon and a sprinkle of gruyère. And while grandmothers across France will determinedly roll up their sleeves and make the short-crust pastry from scratch, we think store-bought pastry will do just fine. Serve it with a glass of Sancerre rouge and enjoy it as the Parisian does, for lunch en famille or among friends.
Asparagus and Bacon Quiche
Makes 4 individual servings using 4 nonstick tart molds with removable bases.
2 rolls shortcrust pastry (there will be some left over)
150 grams bacon, thinly sliced
10 grams butter
6 medium asparagus spears, trimmed and cut into rounds, leaving about 5 cm of the tip intact
1 leek, finely sliced
3 tbsp crème fraîche
120 ml milk
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated
salt and pepper
1/2 cup grated gruyère
1. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Roll out the pastry and place one tart mold facedown on the dough, then cut out a round of pastry about 2 cm larger than the mold. Repeat 3 more times. Place one pastry round in each mold, then gently press it into the crimped edges. Carefully trim any excess from around the top, leaving an overlap of a couple of millimeters. With a fork, poke a few holes in the base, then place in the oven. Bake for 10 minutes, checking regularly. If the pastry begins to puff up, press it down with a spatula. Remove from the oven when the bases start to become golden (not brown) and set aside.
2. In a small frying pan, dry sauté the bacon pieces for a few minutes until brown (you shouldn’t need any oil to do this, as the bacon will release its own fat). Remove from pan with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.
3. Drain the excess bacon fat from the saucepan and melt the butter, then sauté the leek and asparagus until tender (about 2 minutes). Remove from the pan and set aside. Keep the asparagus tips separate.
4. Whisk eggs together in a medium-size bowl, then add milk, crème fraiche, nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste. Whisk again.
5. Divide the bacon, leek and asparagus (except for the tips) between each quiche base and sprinkle with a small amount of the cheese. Pour the egg mixture into the bases, almost to the top. Decorate each quiche with the asparagus tips and a little more cheese.
6. Place in the oven and bake for 20 minutes until golden on top and the mixture appears firm.
7. Remove from the oven and let rest for 10–15 minutes before serving.
Note: These individual quiches are best fresh but can be made up to a day in advance, then reheated gently in an oven at medium heat (around 300–350°F or 160–180°C) for 5–7 minutes.
Editor’s note: If you are a foodie heading to Paris, why not download one of our three gourmet walking trips or our package of foodie walks for the iPhone?