Callie’s Cabin: Spring into a Sierra treasure

Quiche using eggs and milk in pastry goes back centuries. This savory tart is baked in pastry containing vegetables, meat, fish, and seasonings. Quiche Lorraine monikered after the area in France is a variety that includes cheese.

Tomato quiche. Getty Images

In our Golden State California fresh spinach, mushrooms, and tomatoes are my favorites.

Two years ago, in March I traveled to Toronto, Ontario savory quiche wasn’t on my mind at the Reno/Tahoe International Airport. At 5:30 A.M. boarding an aircraft I was accidentally blindsided by a passenger’s steel carry-on. Bam! My cheekbone was smacked. While I chose Canada over the paramedics (if I cracked a back molar, they wouldn’t be able to see it), I carried on (pun intended). Once settled in a hotel suite to die for I was distracted. My cheekbone was the size of a large egg. Ice baby.

By morning pain was my bed companion. The breakfast menu didn’t help. I read: Chorizo Omelette – 19 Smoked cheddar, ham, tater tots or fresh cut fruit. I ordered the egg thing minus the “burnt” cheese and meat. I wanted a slice of my Golden State veggie quiche to soothe the aches and pains.

This recipe is inspired by the Canadian trip that tanked. But a herby quiche, like this one, is stuffed with fresh ingredients from the South Shore Safeway – brown eggs, Monterey Jack, tomatoes and thyme– California-friendly.

Tomato and Thyme Quiche

1 (9-inch) premium store-bought refrigerated pie crust, frozen

1 egg white

1 cup organic half-and-half

3 organic brown eggs, lightly beaten

1 tablespoon yellow onion, diced

¼ cup tablespoon bell pepper, red or green, diced

1-2 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped

1 teaspoon garlic, clove, minced

A dash each of ground pepper, nutmeg

½ -3/4 cup tomatoes, diced or sliced

2 cups all natural, premium Monterey Jack or mozzarella, shredded (save ¼ cup for top)

1 tablespoon European style butter

Parmesan shavings (for topping)

*Extra Options: You can add ½ cup of one of these: Fresh mushrooms, spinach, zucchini. Also, for carnivores or fish lovers: ½ cup bacon or shrimp.

Thaw crust for 20 minutes. Bake pie crust covered in foil for 10 minutes in a 400-degree oven. Brush with a mixture of egg white and 1 tablespoon water. (This keeps it flaky.) Chill in freezer for about 15 minutes. Remove and set aside. In a mixing bowl combine half-and-half and eggs.

Add onion, bell pepper, thyme, garlic, and spices. Stir in tomatoes and cheese. Set aside. Top pie crust bottom with cheese. Pour wet ingredients on top. Drizzle with melted butter. Sprinkle with rest of shredded cheese. Cover quiche with foil to prevent burning crust edges. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or till firm and the crust is light golden brown. Do not over bake. Cool for at least 30 minutes. One hour is preferred. Garnish with Parmesan cheese. Makes eight servings.

Then, wow! The burst of flavorful tomatoes, gooey cheese like in pizza, and hint of herbal, earthy thyme and spices is like a fun food fest inside your mouth and lingers. Pair a slice of semi-homemade quiche with warm, fresh artisan French bread. So, no Canada redo this pre-spring. But hey, I got my vegetarian quiche. Chillin’ at home on the South Shore of Tahoe is cool for now. Hungry? Go ahead – whip it up. You’ll be glad you did.

Cal Orey, M.A. Is an author-journalist and fiction ghostwriter. Her books include the Healing Powers Series (Vinegar, Olive Oil, Chocolate, Honey, Coffee, Tea, Superfoods, Essential Oils, Herbs and Spices) published by Kensington. (The collection has been featured by the Good Cook Book Club.) Her website is http://www.calorey.com.