Three Holiday Must-Have Recipes! Day 3 – Pleine de Surprise Quiche

Pleine de Surprise Quiche – if you speak French you might be thinking “Full of Surprise Quiche?………….. really?” Really! This delicious cheese and egg tart has an interesting surprise  ingredient that you very well probably have never experienced in quiche –  but first a little story…………………

Being a very curious and adventuresome cook can cause problems at times; when my children were young and would ask “What’s for dinner?” I learned very quickly that it wasn’t always wise to tell them exactly what I was cooking because this would often elicit miserable sounding moans, groans and a great deal of complaining.  So I coined a phrase that eliminated this problem; I would simply say “surprise casserole!” This way they would have no chance to don the long face, to commiserate with each other and they’d usually come to the table with a fairly unbiased attitude.

So back to the quiche – when I was deciding on a name for this fabulous , versatile recipe I thought that I best not tell you right away one of the main ingredients, since I didn’t want to turn you away…………… but I guess I can’t lead you on anymore………. there’s a whole cup of tiny green peas along with lots of spinach, Italian chicken sausage, eggs, cheddar and Feta cheeses, half & half and fresh basil.  Yes, I said PEAS! You probably wouldn’t know it though if you had a taste with your eyes closed. The peas add just a bit of sweetness, lots of great nutrition and a really fun visual effect. My husband, who’s not a pea-crazy kind of guy gave this quiche rave reviews and went back for seconds. Give this fun unique quiche a try and if your (non pea-loving) children ask, “what’s for dinner?”, you can simply reply, with great sophistication, Pleine de Surprise Quiche!

This quiche is wonderful for breakfast, brunch, lunch or even a casual dinner. It can be baked in charming individual tart pans or served by the slice from a larger pan. You can swap out bacon for the chicken sausage or asparagus for the peas – it’s another Little Black Dress Recipe!

My favorite way to serve this lovely quiche is with the Cranberry-Avocado Salad with Candied Almonds – from yesterday’s post – a very complimentary combination! Another nice pairing is with fresh tomatoes drizzled with a House Dressing and sprinkled with a bit of Feta cheese as you see pictured above – and I happen to have some lovely pansies growing on my deck – yes they are one of the flower varieties that are edible. So if you grow pansies, have some fun with them and dress up your plates a bit!

P.S. Oh and by the way, it’s true what they say about “What goes around comes around.” – now that my children are grown, whenever we’re invited to their homes, if I inquire, “What’s for dinner?” the answer is always the same……………… yes, you guessed it – “SURPRISE CASSEROLE”! And for some reason, they say this with great pleasure. 🙂

Pleine de Surprise Quiche

6 ounces fresh baby spinach, roughly chopped
2 links chicken sausage (cooked), sliced and halved
1 ¼ cups half and half
2 lg eggs
2 lg egg yolks
4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese
½ cup Feta cheese
2 tablespoons fresh basil, finely chopped
½ teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon pepper
1 cup tiny frozen peas
cooking spray
1 17 ounce package puff pastry, unthawed in refrigerator
 Equipment needed 
eight 4 inch tart pans with removable bottoms or one 11 inch tart pan with removable bottom. Could also be made in a regular quiche pan.

1. Preheat oven to 400˚F. Place a sheet pan on the lowest rack of the oven.

2. Place spinach in a microwave safe bowl. Sprinkle very lightly with water and cover bowl with saran wrap. Cook on high for 2 minutes. Remove from microwave and set aside to cool. When cool drain well, then squeeze out excess moisture with your hands. Place in between several thicknesses of paper towel and squeeze out any extra moisture.

3. Combine eggs, egg yolks and half and half and whisk until well blended. Add cheddar and Feta cheeses, sea salt, pepper, fresh basil, spinach, chicken sausage and peas; stir to combine.

4. Place one sheet of puff pastry on a floured surface – keep the other wrapped in plastic and refrigerated unit ready to use. Sprinkle the top with flour and roll out pastry to form a 12 x 12 inch square. Cut out four 6 inch circles. (I used a 6 inch plate and trimmed around the edges.) Fit circles of dough into 4 four inch tart pans with removable bottoms and press into pans to fit flush with the top rims.  Place tart pans in freezer while repeating process with other sheet of puff pastry (the only secret to working with puff pastry is to keep it cold up until baking time – this helps it to “puff” nicely when it hits the hot oven air).

5. Divide egg mixture among the 8 tart pans. Place in oven on heated sheet pan and bake for 20-25 minutes, covering with foil last 20 minutes if getting too brown. Remove from oven and sprinkle lightly with a bit more Feta, if desired.

Serves 8
~ This recipe can also be made in an 11 inch tart pan with a removable bottom. For one large tart, roll puff pastry out to a 13 inch square and fit into pan, letting excess hang over the edges of the pan. Roll a rolling pin over the top to trim excess pastry flush with top of rim. If using a regular quiche pan, roll pastry out to fit pan and trim edges as needed. Fill with egg mixture as directed and bake for 35-40 minutes or until puffed and golden.
~ Quiches can be frozen after filling with egg mixture. To bake, place in oven frozen and bake about 10 minutes longer or until puffed and golden.

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