Pumpkin, what have they done to you? They’ve made your name synonymous with every fall food creation, from the ubiquitous pumpkin spice latte (now known simply as PSL) to pumpkin spiced popcorn, bagels, pop-tarts, waffles, yogurt, truffles, ice cream and even Oreo’s. For the savory minded there are pumpkin spiced tortilla chips, crackers, cheese dip, hummus…and at the end of the day you can unwind with a pumpkin spiced ale or tea or stir up a martini made with pumpkin spiced vodka.
Enough already! All these processed pumpkin things make me crave food made with the earthy flavor and texture of actual pumpkin and butternut squash.
I looked no further than the Bring It! archives to satisfy my craving, and used the excuse to do some experimenting. First, there is the ridiculously easy—Halloween Soup, which you may want to make for sustenance tonight. For apps, my fall fave is squash on toast featuring spicy roasted squash and maple caramelized onion. Deconstructed, the elements of this make amazing pizzas, quesadillas, grilled cheeses and, with a little more tweaking, a rustic bread pudding (ready for prime time soon I hope). Until then, get your casserole fix with butternut squash casserole or commit to butternut squash lasagne. Pumpkin rosemary hummus has the flavors of fall without the cloying PSL signature, and by subbing pumpkin or squash for banana in buckwheat granola, you’ve got a new, weird classic.
But let’s revisit that PSL. Its popularity underscores our need for something a little more substantial in our cups and on our plates for breakfast this time of year. Wrangling a good breakfast—that can be portable, reheatable, and versatile—into the household every morning can take you down! Crustless breakfast quiches to the rescue. They make a brilliant go-to for any meal or snack and can be made in mini or regular muffin tins (though mini versions seem a little bit mean). The cornstarch keep the texture silky even through freezing and reheating, and the filling can be tweaked with whatever you have on hand (hello roasted butternut squash and caramelized onion!) I meant to stage a proper photo shoot with them, but in one of those ironies of food blogging, the best things disappear before they can be properly photographed. So just trust me—these are man-, boy- and mom-tested and approved. Girls? Please report!
Crustless Zucchini and Basil (or whatever) Mini-Quiches
Makes 48 mini quiches or 14 ish muffin sized quiches; adapted from Fine Cooking Magazine
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 1 1/4 cup whole milk
- 2 large eggs
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1 cup heavy cream (if no cream, a combo of milk and sour cream works too)
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
- Oil, for the pan
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 shallots, minced
- 2 small zucchini, grated (or chopped vegetable of choice)
- 1/2 cup or more grated Gruyere or Parmesan cheese (it has to be a hard cheese to make a crust. You can add other cheese on top if desired)
- Fresh basil, finely chopped (or herb of choice, all optional)
* filling can be adapted to use anything you like. Try chopped up ham and broccoli, apples and walnuts, sautéed corn and peppers, spinach and mushrooms, or of course roasted squash and caramelized onions.
Heat oven to 450°F.
Prepare Batter: Put the cornstarch in a medium bowl. Whisking steadily, slowly pour in 1/2 cup of the milk, mixing until quite smooth. Whisk in the whole eggs and egg yolks, mixing again until smooth, then gradually whisk in the rest of the milk, the cream, salt, and nutmeg. Use immediately or refrigerate, covered, for up to one day. If using the next day, be sure to re-whisk.
Prepare Zucchini/Veggie Mixture: In a nonstick pan, heat oil over medium heat. Add garlic and shallots and stir until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add grated zucchini, and stir until just softened, another 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat. (This is where you can freelance with other vegetables, herbs, meat, dollops of soft cheese or whatever you like)
Oil mini muffin tins well. Put a pinch grated cheese into each muffin cup, a teaspoon of zucchini mixture, and pinch of chopped fresh basil. Pour 1 tablespoon of the batter into each muffin cup. (adjust amounts for regular muffin cups, making sure there is enough cheese to cover the bottom of the pan.)
Bake until the quiches puff and start to turn golden, 15-18 minutes (a bit longer for regular muffin cups) Let cool for 10 minutes and then carefully run a paring knife around the rim of each muffin cup. Carefully lift each quiche out of its cup.
Mini quiches freeze very well. Let cool, then freeze in a single layer in a covered container. Reheat on a cookie sheet in a 400 degree oven for about 5-10 minutes. They will also keep a few days in the fridge, to be reheated as needed.