zucchini-pancetta quiche

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If you’ve been eating with Pupcaked for a while, you might think that the only thing I’d ever slice into meat for was pancetta. And the truth is: it is crispy, salty and sweet in all the ways that good meat was ever intended to indulge even the most green-leaning of omnivores. Honestly, I could brown pancetta to near perfection, only to have it all fall (tragically) on the floor and need trashing and still cook a boring or flat something else into a flavor bomb of tenderness just from its rendered fat.  It’s funny though, growing up I didn’t even much like bacon.

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I know, it’s terrible. It’s almost as bad as not liking chocolate. But honestly, I’d only ever really eat bacon if it was really crispy. Almost burnt to the point that most people wouldn’t want it. At those weekend breakfasts with pancakes that my father sometimes made, I’d reach for the darkest piece I could find. Fat, puffed and popped like a potato chip.

Obviously, pancetta came much later… and only after I had quit several years of being vegetarian, and even then, only after I had been to Europe and back and had tasted all kinds of papery dabs of cured meat.

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So when you’ve surfaced that part-fruit-part-vegetable-let’s-check-the-dictionary-no-really-but-which-is-it-must-be-a-fruit-because-it-has-seeds thing called zucchini from your fridge, you’ll think about using it in a number of ways (lightly sweetdipped, or in a mighty summer sandwich) before shredding it into a quiche like this one. Then you’ll crisp a pan of that long time coming pancetta, that took crispy cuts of bacon, vegetarianism and Europe to find, and realize after the first mouthful of piping quiche — browned cheesy thing that it is —  that there’s really, ultimately, not much to be said for skill here as there is something to be said for the genius of pancetta, folded into a bowl of baked egg.

But really, it’s a different kind of superfood.

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  • 1 10″ tart pan laid with a basic tart dough + 1 egg for wash
  • 2 large zucchini, grated and drained well*
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup pancetta, diced (about 6 oz.)
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons yellow onion, grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • pinch red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • parmesan or gruyere cheese, grated, for sprinkling

*Using a cheesecloth to squeeze out water can be really useful here, we don’t want excess liquid!

Saute pancetta over medium heat in a large skillet, until golden brown, about four minutes.  Using a slotted spoon, transfer pancetta from pan to a plate lined with paper towels. Do not discard rendered fat. In the same pan, begin heating garlic and onion with a pinch of red pepper flakes (if desired) until fragrant and then add zucchini, sauteing until translucent and tender, about three minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Stir occasionally to avoid sticking and brown evenly. Remove from heat and set aside to cool to room temperature
In a medium size bowl, whisk together eggs, half and half, nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste. Then stir in zucchini.
Dab prepared tart crust with egg wash then sprinkle diced pancetta evenly across the bottom of the uncooked crust. Gently pour egg-zucchini mixture into prepared shell. Bake 45-50 minutes, or until crust is golden brown and center of quiche is not  liquid or jiggling when gently shaken. Sprinkle with freshly grated parmesan, gruyere cheese (or other) if desired. Remove from oven and allow to cool on a wire rack before serving. Serve warm or at room temperature.
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