Years ago I served this dish to a couple who we had over for dinner and it was a real hit. That success had unexpected repercussions, however. Jim was a coworker of mine at an aerospace electronics plant in California, and lived with his significant other in an old farmhouse where, during the second world war, a woman raised black widow spiders in the basement. Really. The spider's silk, being stronger than anything manmade of that size, was used (I am not making this up) to make cross hairs in aircraft bomb sights and other instruments, allowing super thin lines which steel wire could not provide. Happily, they never saw any black widows while they were living there.
Jim was a very laid back fellow from Missouri of about 35 years at the time, who collected Studebaker cars. He had been a naval officer (graduate of Annapolis) during which time he made hours of boring 8mm home movies of the wake of the aircraft carrier on which he served - no people, no planes, just reel after reel of open ocean (he'd never seen the ocean before joining the Navy). He was tall and thin, wore a rumpled seersucker suit at work, and had an unfiltered cigarette dangling from his lips most of the time as he shared laconic observations on the meaning of life. He reminded me a bit of Will Rogers – the kind of person you just couldn’t help but like.
Ten years my senior, he was a mentor to me, though I was a young smart ass/know it all. (Now am an older smart ass/know it all.) Perhaps it was my attitude that added some competiveness into the relationship, but after his significant other had raved about my quiche, Jim wanted to prove that he was just as capable of making zucchini quiche as was I. So one weekend they invited us over to their house – the “black widow house” as we called it – for quiche.
Jim was a tad long in the kitchen and the rest of us started to wonder what was going on. It seemed to be taking too long for the quiche to bake. He finally pulled it out of the oven and cut it open. That was when he discovered that he had made a crucial mistake in the recipe. He had used cucumbers instead of zucchini! The poor guy never lived it down.
So here’s my recipe for zucchini quiche. (Well, to be honest it is an old recipe from my 1972 edition of “The Vegetarian Epicure” by Anna Thomas.)
The zucchini in the garden aren’t ready to pick yet, but best to assemble everything I need ahead of time, right? Dieters and vegans can use their favorite substitutes for the sour cream and cheese. Not me. I don’t eat this kind of dish very often, so when I do, I use the real thing even if cheese isn't usually on my menu.
First off, you’re going to need pie crust dough. I won’t include the recipe for that here. Make your own or buy it pre-made if you like, but just dough, not pre-shaped. If you need a recipe, email me. In addition to the dough, you’ll need:
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup grated Cheddar
1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs
1 1/2 to 2 lb. fresh zucchini
2 eggs, separated (not from each other, silly, separate the yolks and whites)
1 1/2 cups sour cream
2 Tbs chopped chives
2 Tbs flour
1/8 tsp cream of tartar
sea salt and fresh ground black pepper
Prepare the pie crust dough and mix in half of the two cheeses. Chill it, then press into a 10 inch pie dish. Mix the other half of the cheeses with the bread crumbs.
Cut the zucchini into 1/4 inch slices. Try to make them all the same width. Boil in salted water for 5 minutes and drain. It is important not to overcook them.
Beat the egg yolks and sour cream together, add chives, flour, salt and pepper. Whip the egg whites with the cream of tartar until stiff and add them to the rest of the mix – gently. You want the entire mixture to be as fluffy as possible.
Take out the chilled pie crust and make a layer of zucchini slices on the bottom. Cover them with some of the sour cream mixture. Keep adding layers in this way until you run out of slices. You should have three or four layers. Top the zucchini off with sour cream mixture and sprinkle on the breadcrumbs with cheese to cover. Something to keep in mind while putting it together is to save enough of the egg and sour cream mixture to cover the whole thing when you're done layering the zucchini.
Place small slivers of butter scattered around the top and put the pie into a 450 degree F oven for 10 minutes, turning it down to 325 F for another 40 minutes or until done.
The result is not only light and tasty, when you serve up a slice with the layered zucchini showing, it's a feast for the eyes as well. Enjoy.
Oh, and please don't use cucumbers.