Quiche is like pizza — it can be made with almost anything. Although it sounds posh, quiche one of my fridge clean-out dishes. I rummage through the crisper drawers, explore the pull-out where I keep cheese and poke through other nooks to see what needs to be used up that might taste good together. Then, I use this basic recipe as a guideline.
Don’t get me wrong, the originally version of this quiche made only of caramelized onions is absolutely great on its own. I made it dozens of times while on tour with my first book, The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry.
I created the basic recipe while living in Paris and studying at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. A small bistro near our apartment on Rue Etienne Marcel served what it referred to as “French onion quiche” one unseasonably warm March afternoon. It was exactly as advertised, with sweet brown onions usually found in the base of a bowl of French onion soup. The owner told me that this quiche was the result of caramelizing too many onions. “It was warm the past few days, so no one wanted hot soup,” he said, shrugging his shoulders. So he sold the quiche with a salad and voila, he found a way to unload all those extra onions.
So I tried it in our small Paris kitchen, looking out the window at the environs of a five-way intersection that lay below every as the onions simmered. I admit that many onions seemed like an insurmountable pile, but they reduced drastically as the heat changed them from hard, spicy and white to soft, brown and almost sugary.
This basic recipe focuses on onions, but try asparagus, mushrooms, ham, artichokes, spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, bacon, chopped up ham or whatever you have in your fridge that needs to get used up. If you have a lot of vegetables, simply reduce the amount of onions so you don’t overload your quiche. I recommend cooking mushrooms in some oil, and/or lightly steaming asparagus or broccoli before cooking. If you’re using fresh spinach or kale, give it a quick whirl it in a hot pan with some olive oil until it wilts. Let any cooked vegetables cool before adding the filling or the heat may cook the eggs prematurely.
Note: Quiche is traditionally made in a special tart pan that allows the bottom to be removed. You can find one online for around $10 [affiliate link] or use a standard pie pan or frankly, a cake pan, a brownie pan or anything that can go into the oven with at least 1/2 inch sides. I also use parchment and pie weights [affiliate link] to “blind bake” the pastry shell first. I’m a fan of cookie-sheet sized pre-cut parchment [affiliate link] but any kind will do. You can use aluminum foil in place of parchment and dried beans in place of pie weights. Do not use wax paper or you’ll end up with a waxy pastry shell, something no one will find appetizing.
Like pie, quiche is best with a butter-laden homemade crust. I recommend the pâte brisée from my friend Elise Bauer’s site, SimplyRecipes. However, I am certainly not going to judge you if you buy prepared pie dough. Life is too short for that.
French Onion Quiche
Quiche can be served hot, warm or at room temperature. It also reheats well in a low oven. If you don’t have Gruyere, you can substitute Swiss cheese, or use a blend of Swiss and Parmesan. This recipe is designed for a nine-inch quiche pan, or about six servings.
Prepared pie dough or pâte brisée
3 large onions (about two pounds), sliced
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon flour
3 large eggs
¾ cup (175 ml) heavy cream
Coarse salt, ground pepper
½ teaspoon fresh thyme
3 ounces (90 grams) Gruyère cheese, grated
Preheat oven to 425° F / 220°C.
In a large sauté pan melt the butter with the olive oil. Add the onions and bay leaf. Cook and stir patiently until they’re brown and soft, about a half hour. Once browned, sprinkle with flour and a dash of salt and cook another 2 minutes. Set aside to cool. Remove the tomato petals from the sheet, let cool.
Roll out the dough, press it into a quiche or pie pan. Pierce the bottom with a fork. To keep its shape, set parchment or aluminum foil in the center and fill with pie weights or dry beans. Bake for 5 minutes. Remove weights, brush the pastry with beaten egg and return to oven for 7 minutes. Cool slightly.
Whisk the eggs and cream in a bowl. Stir in about one-third of the cheese, salt, pepper and thyme. Stir in the cooled onions and then pour into the pastry shell. Arrange tomatoes in decorative pattern on top. Sprinkle on remaining Gruyère. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes until firm, slightly browned and a bit puffy.
Originally published Aug. 11, 2011. Updated April 16, 2018.