Gail Ciampa: Modern quiche meets ancient grain
Have you heard about einkorn? Remember when you hadn’t yet heard of quinoa?
It’s an ancient grain, a form of wheat; non-hybridized, easy to digest. It has a more developed root system than modern wheat, which enables it to uptake more nutrients, including lutein, iron, phosphorus, potassium, thiamin and vitamins A and E. It became less popular as new varieties of wheat became popular.
These details come from authors and Food Loves Writing bloggers Tim and Shanna Mallon in their new “The Einkorn Cookbook” (Fair Winds Press, $22.99).
They don’t stop there. They say einkorn is less likely to cause gut inflammation, and has a sweet flavor and silky texture. Then they tell us how to cook with it, in more than 100 recipes.
Whole grain and white einkorn flours are made from the same einkorn berries. Whole grain retains the bran and germ while the white has had most of it removed.
While it is in the same family as farro, spelt and wheat, it does not act like them in baking. It reacts differently with liquid for absorption.
Dive in and give baking with einkorn a try — but follow the directions carefully.
Start with this Ricotta Vegetable Quiche, which pairs leafy greens and fruit. The recipe combines a buttery, flaky einkorn crust with the egg filling, lightened with ricotta cheese.
The book is available wherever books or sold or can be ordered from your regular bookstore.
Ricotta Vegetable Quiche
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 cup chopped bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped baby bella or cremini mushrooms
1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
1/4 cup whole milk
3/4 cup ricotta cheese
1 cup packed baby spinach
1 teaspoon red chili flakes
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Hearty Whole-Grain Pie Crust (see recipe)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Warm coconut oil in a 9-inch skillet over medium-low heat. Stir in chopped bell pepper, onion, mushrooms and tomatoes, and sauté until soft and translucent, but not browned, about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.
In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs until combined and slightly frothy. Stir in milk and ricotta until combined.
Add spinach, red chili flakes, salt and pepper to vegetable mixture, and stir together until well mixed and the spinach is coated with oil and wilted from the heat. Add this combined vegetable mixture to the egg mixture.
Remove pie crust dough from the refrigerator to a floured surface. Grease a 9- to 10-inch pie pan. Use a rolling pin to flatten the dough to be a little larger than the pie pan. Using floured hands, press dough into prepared pan, trimming the edges as you like.
Pour vegetable-egg mixture into pan. Place the pan in the oven and bake for 45 minutes to an hour, or until set and slightly golden. You’ll know it’s done when a knife or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool at least a few minutes, and slice to serve. Serve warm or chilled.
Makes 6 to 8 servings.
Hearty Whole-Grain Pie Crust
11/4 cups sifted (to remove bran) whole-grain einkorn flour, plus more for surfaces
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
7 tablespoons unsalted butter , cold, cubed into 14 pieces
1 to 2 tablespoons cold water
Combine flour and salt in a medium bowl. Using a pastry cutter, cut in the cubed butter until it is in random chunks throughout, larger than peas but smaller than dimes. The chunks don’t need to be identical, and there can still be some big ones, but you’re aiming to get all the (still cold) butter broken up — this should only take about 15 to 20 seconds.
Stir in water; the mixture will still look crumbly and you’ll think you need to add more, but resist the impulse. Instead, use your floured hands to push, press and form the crumbly mixture into a soft, workable ball. This entire process should take no more than 3 to 5 minutes. If it’s too dry to work with, add another tablespoon of water; if it’s too wet, add another tablespoon of flour; repeat until dough comes together into a ball.
Set dough on a well-floured surface. Using a floured rolling pin, roll the dough with quick, swift strokes. Gently flip and continue rolling, turning it every few strokes to re-flour the surface and keep from sticking to the counter. Note that you will see streaks of butter throughout the dough — this is good; it’s what will impart the flaky texture once it bakes. Those streaks of butter may also make the dough sticky, however, so don’t be afraid to generously dust it with flour as you work.
Roll dough into a circle that is a little larger than your pie plate. Gently transfer the dough to your pie plate and form to fit, pressing around the sides with your fingers to make a design if you like. Prebake or fill and bake according to pie recipe instructions.
Makes 1 pie crust.
Gail Ciampa is food editor of the Providence (Rhode Island) Journal. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter at @gailciampa.