The Hamilton Spectator - - GO - SARA MOUL­TON

You’d think quiche would be a sum­mer pic­nic sta­ple.

In prac­tice, the beloved cheese pies are too darn messy. Cut­ting one into slices while you’re sit­ting in the wild or at the beach can be tricky. And if you fig­ure, “Aha! I’ll slice it up ahead of time,” you dis­cover there’s no easy way to trans­port the in­di­vid­ual wedges.

Fi­nally, it’s gotta be served with a knife and fork. No way. Pic­nics are all about fin­ger food.

This recipe for pic­nic-size south­west­ern zuc­chini quiches pro­vides a snazzy so­lu­tion to the prob­lem — in­di­vid­ual cup­cake-sized pies, each one neatly en­sconced in its own liner. And mak­ing them is a snap be­cause I’ve swapped out the typ­i­cal labour-in­ten­sive pas­try pie crust for a crumb crust made with but­ter­moist­ened Triscuit crack­ers. (In fact, any kind of cracker will do. So will bread crumbs.) It’s sort of like a savoury ver­sion of a gra­ham cracker crust.

You’re wel­come to re­place the Mon­terey Jack with a dif­fer­ent cheese and the zuc­chini with a dif­fer­ent cooked veg­etable. Just be sure to keep the amounts the same. This fill­ing is poured on top of the crumb crust and baked in muf­fin tins. Trans­port­ing the fin­ished quiches to the pic­nic is a cinch — they ride in the tins.

I rec­om­mend us­ing cup­cake lin­ers made of brown parch­ment pa­per, if you can find them.

These are ver­sa­tile, too — de­li­cious right out of the oven, at room tem­per­a­ture, or even cold.

Pic­nic Size South­west­ern Zuc­chini Quiches MAKES 6 SERV­INGS

22 whole Triscuit crack­ers ground fine in a food pro­ces­sor (about 1 cup) or 1 cup finely ground cracker crumbs of your choice or dried bread crumbs 4 ta­ble­spoons un­salted but­ter, melted, di­vided 1 medium zuc­chini (about 6 ounces) Kosher salt ½ cup finely chopped onion ¼ cup un­bleached all-pur­pose flour ½ tea­spoon bak­ing pow­der 3 large eggs 6 ounces coarsely grated Mon­terey Jack cheese (about 2½ cups) 1 cup whole milk cot­tage cheese One 4½-ounce can chopped green chiles Bot­tled salsa as an ac­com­pa­ni­ment

Start to fin­ish: 1 hour, 15 min­utes Pre­heat oven to 375 F. In a medium bowl com­bine the crumbs with 3 ta­ble­spoons of the but­ter; toss well. Press the crumb mix­ture into the bot­tom and slightly up the sides of 12 muf­fin tins (1/3 cup) lined with parch­ment or cup­cake hold­ers. Bake the crusts in the mid­dle of the pre­heated oven un­til they turn a slight shade darker, about seven min­utes. Re­move from the oven, set aside, and re­duce the oven tem­per­a­ture to 350 F.

While the crusts are bak­ing, grate the zuc­chini, prefer­ably us­ing the grat­ing at­tach­ment of a food pro­ces­sor. Toss the zuc­chini with ½ tea­spoon salt; let drain in a colan­der for 15 min­utes. Work­ing with small hand­fuls, squeeze the zuc­chini well to re­move the ex­cess wa­ter.

In a skil­let, heat the re­main­ing ta­ble­spoon but­ter over medi­umhigh; add the onion, re­duce the heat to medium-low and cook the onion, stir­ring oc­ca­sion­ally, un­til golden, about eight min­utes. Add the zuc­chini and sauté over medium-high heat, stir­ring, for two min­utes.

In a small bowl stir to­gether flour, bak­ing pow­der and ¼ tea­spoon salt. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs well. Add the flour mix­ture and cheeses; stir un­til com­bined. Stir in the zuc­chini mix­ture and chiles; di­vide the mix­ture among the muf­fin tins. Bake the quiches in the mid­dle of the oven un­til the tops are puffed and golden brown and a tester comes out clean, about 25 min­utes.

Eat right away (if not tak­ing to a pic­nic), or let cool and then chill, cov­ered with plas­tic wrap, leav­ing the quiches in the muf­fin tin. To serve, carry the quiches to the pic­nic in the muf­fin tin and serve, top­ping each with a spoon­ful of salsa.

Per serv­ing: 340 calo­ries (190 from fat); 21 grams fat (11 g sat­u­rated; 0 g trans fats); 156 mil­ligrams choles­terol; 593 mg sodium; 22 g car­bo­hy­drate; 2 g fi­bre; 3 g su­gar; 17 g pro­tein.


Trans­port­ing the fin­ished quiches to the pic­nic is a cinch — they ride in the tins.

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