Anybody remember the book Real Men Don't Eat Quiche? It satirized the idea that for men to be manly they should not know what quiche is much less eat it. Quiche became the epitome of a sensitive man who was in touch with his feminine side. Um, and what is wrong with that? The phrase implies that real men should be chowing down on steak and other “macho” food. I have visions of Tim Allen (in his Home Improvement persona) beating his chest and growling “more meat!” Thirty years later have our stereotypes changed? Father’s Day is fast approaching and a lot of the store advertising seems to focus on getting Dad something to do with grilling (and it isn't showing Dad grilling up zucchini or pineapple). Well, not every man craves hamburgers or chicken, just as not every woman craves Caesar salad or quiche!
I know this blog starts out sounding like I am going to push vegetarianism, but what I really want to push is that we can break out of stereotypes. The season is upon us for picnics, special events (weddings, company functions, etc.), family gatherings and dinners with friends. If you have special diet needs it can be a bit of a challenge. My husband and I hate feeling like we are being a pain by asking people to accommodate our choices in food. I will always offer to bring something “we can eat” if appropriate. If the event is at a restaurant or club we will request a vegetarian meal. This has had mixed results. I have been to weddings where my meal consisted of two baked potatoes and an extra helping of broccoli. (One of my favorites was when the manager brought me a plate full of those pre-made appetizers you can get at BJ’s and they had meat in them!) Usually it is some kind of pasta primavera. It seems no chef thinks about throwing in some beans or nuts for protein. Heck, give me a big salad with chick peas and a hard boiled egg and I will be thrilled! Today so many people have different dietary needs (gluten free, lactose intolerance, etc) that restaurants are willing to accommodate. Coming from a restaurant background, I can say chefs have heard every request from “make it less fattening” to “don’t let an onion get anywhere near my food! I hate onions!” Being someone who doesn't want risotto or soup made with chicken stock, I know what to ask for, but I still applaud any chef who is able to take these requests and get creative. It is up to us to let people who prepare food know that a special request is not a burden but a way to try new and, hopefully, delicious options. Don't be afraid to speak up and break some preconceived ideas of what a “real” man (or woman) eats.
This week I will be putting my own advice to the test. We are going to a formal this Saturday and rather than just say I would like a vegetarian meal I will be contacting the chef to discuss what our options are. For an occasion like this we might go with fish, but I am hoping he will have some non-animal ideas. I will let you know!
So of course I need to do a quiche recipe this week! Food Network magazine has a great article on how to customize your quiche, spelling out exactly how much of each kind of ingredient to use. I usually have a store bought organic, whole wheat pie crust in the freezer so I can throw together a quick dinner. The one thing to remember is it will take up to an hour to cook in order to make sure the eggs get done. This makes quiche a great choice for company because you can put it in the oven and then visit with your guests.
Spinach, Feta and Tomato Quiche
adapted from Vegetarian Times
1 store bought pie crust (not the sweet ones designed for desserts)
1 large bunch spinach, rinsed with water still on leaves (could use 10 oz. bag frozen that is thawed and squeezed dry)
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 large OR 2 medium tomatoes sliced thin OR 10 cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup milk of choice (low-fat, soy, almond, etc)
Pinch of ground nutmeg
Preheat oven to 350F.
Heat a large sauce pan (big enough to hold spinach) over medium heat. Add damp spinach and cover. Let steam 3-5 minutes, until spinach has wilted. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Squeeze spinach dry in a dish towel or use a strainer to press the water out. Mix spinach with onion.
Sprinkle cheese over crust (this helps prevent the crust from getting soggy or avoids any burnt cheese if you are tempted to put it on top). Top with spinach mixture. Arrange tomatoes over spinach.
Whisk together eggs, milk and nutmeg. Season with salt and pepper, if desired. Pour into crust, over spinach and tomatoes. Set on a baking sheet and bake 45-50 minutes, until top is brown and center is set.