This weekend was full of parties and good cheer. It started with a bang on Friday, when my friends surprised me with a birthday party! I thought I was meeting one friend for dinner, but to my shock and delight, eight smiling faces were waiting for me when I arrived.
My birthday is on Christmas and I haven’t had a proper birthday celebration in, oh, almost a decade, so it meant the world to me. I’m actually looking forward to my real birthday now. And, now that I am no longer filled with Christmas baby bitterness, I might stop being a Scrooge and actually pull out some holiday decorations.
My friend Tessa served her version of this quiche at girls’ night a couple of months ago. Two of the four of us are gluten-free, so we often serve simple, vegetarian frittatas that satisfy all four of us. (Add a bottle of wine, maybe a side salad and some chocolate for desert, and we’ve made a gourmet meal with minimal effort.)
That night, Tessa included an almond meal crust, which turned her baked frittata into a quiche. I’ve never been a big fan of all-purpose flour crusts, but this crisp, savory, herbed crust is another story. We all absolutely loved the flavor and texture of the crust and requested the recipe. The best part? You don’t even need a rolling pin to make it. Just smush the crust into form with your fingers.
I’ve been working on a larger scale version that can be baked in a cast iron skillet ever since. My final, favorite version starts with a garlicky thyme and almond meal crust, which is filled with scrambled eggs, goat cheese, mushrooms and arugula. It’s fresh, filling and simple—perfect for a holiday brunch or a simple weeknight dinner.
If you would like to serve the quiche with wine, I’d suggest a light-bodied pinot noir. This post’s sponsor, Robert Mondavi Private Selection, offers a widely available pinot noir that truly is just right. The pinot noir’s notes of sour cherry and oak pair wonderfully with the flavors of goat cheese, arugula and Cremini mushrooms.
Mondavi asked me to share some entertaining tips with you all today. My suggestions, which are all pretty basic but oven overlooked, come from my experience in food service as well as attending parties as a guest. What are your best tips? I’d love to hear them.
- Serve glasses of water alongside alcohol, and refill the water glasses whenever they are running low. Hydrated guests are happier guests.
- Cloth napkins always leave an impression. They don’t even have to match as long as they share a common theme. A matching salt shaker and pepper grinder is a nice touch, too.
- Gracefully clear plates from the table as they are finished. Guests can’t relax and put their elbows on the table if it’s covered with empty plates.
- Set up a drink station away from the kitchen that offers all of the necessary drink supplies: alcohol, glasses, ice, garnishes. Let guests serve themselves so they can drink at their own pace.
- Stemless wine glasses may not be the most proper wine glasses, but they’re less likely to tip over and spill or break.
- Lights! Music! Don’t neglect ambience. Avoid harsh overhead lighting and play event-appropriate background music. (Thanks to my friend Grace for the reminder!)
- Don’t try to do everything by yourself! Guests want to contribute and be helpful, so tell them what you need them to bring or do. Better to ask for help than to make everyone around you feel helpless and stressed for you.
- Don’t feel compelled to offer a million different menu items. Serve enough to satisfy your guests and their individual dietary restrictions. Humans have a natural tendency to want to try everything, which leads to overeating and post-holiday party guilt. There’s no need to prepare more food than people actually want or need!
- Don’t forget about the bathroom. Make sure to provide a clean hand towel and leave an extra roll of toilet paper in sight.
Arugula and Cremini Quiche with Gluten-Free Almond Meal Crust
Arugula, Cremini mushrooms and goat cheese quiche in a gluten-free thyme and almond meal crust. A simple, gourmet recipe for breakfast, brunch or dinner!
- Gluten-free almond meal crust
2 cups almond meal or almond flour (I had better results with almond meal)
3 garlic cloves, pressed or minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
⅓ cup olive oil
1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon water
- Arugula, Cremini mushroom and goat cheese filling
3 cups baby arugula, roughly chopped
1 ½ cups cleaned and sliced Cremini mushrooms
Drizzle olive oil
6 large eggs
⅓ cup milk
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
5 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 10-inch cast iron skillet or 9″ pie pan with olive oil or cooking spray. In a mixing bowl, stir together the almond meal, garlic, thyme, salt and pepper. Pour in the olive oil and water and stir until the mixture is thoroughly combined.
- Press the dough into your prepared skillet/pan until it is evenly dispersed across the bottom and at least 1 ¼ inch up the sides. Bake until the crust is lightly golden and firm to the touch, about 15 to 20 minutes.
- In a large skillet over medium heat, warm enough olive oil to lightly coat the pan. Cook the mushrooms with a dash of salt, stirring often, until tender. Toss in the arugula and let it wilt, while stirring, about 30 seconds. Transfer the mixture to a plate to cool.
- In a mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, salt and red pepper. Stir in the goat cheese and the slightly cooled mushroom and arugula mixture.
- Once the crust is done baking, pour in the egg mixture and bake for 30 minutes, or until the center is firm to the touch and cooked through. Let the quiche cool for 5 to 10 minutes before slicing with a sharp knife. Serve immediately.
- Crust adapted from Roost’s Rainbow Chard Tartlets. Thyme/goat cheese/mushroom/arugula flavor combination inspired by What to Drink with What You Eat.
- Yields 6 large slices.