This last weekend was jam-packed with festivities and joy. It all got off to an exciting start on Friday when my pals threw me a birthday party as a surprise! To my surprise and delight, eight friendly faces were waiting for me when I arrived, even though I had assumed I would only be having dinner with one buddy.
It meant the world to me because I hadn’t had a good birthday celebration in, oh, about a decade and it was my birthday on Christmas. My actual birthday is suddenly something I’m looking forward to. And, now that my Christmas baby resentment has subsided, I might quit being a Scrooge and actually put up some holiday decorations instead of just being a grump.
At a recent girls’ night, my friend Tessa presented her take on this quiche. We frequently serve straightforward, vegetarian frittatas that please all four of us because two of the four of us must avoid gluten. (With the addition of a bottle of wine, perhaps a side salad, and some chocolate for dessert, we’ve effortlessly created a gourmet supper.)
That evening, Tessa turned her baked frittata into a quiche by adding an almond meal crust. All-purpose flour crusts have never been my favorite, but this crunchy, salty, herbed crust is something else entirely. We all insisted on having the recipe because we were so impressed with the taste and texture of the crust. What’s best? Even a rolling pin is not required to create it. Simply use your fingers to press the crust into shape.
Also read: Megan’s Morning Glory Oatmeal
Since then, I’ve been developing a bigger version that can be baked in a cast iron skillet. The last and most delicious version I’ve made starts with a crust made of almond meal and garlicky thyme, which is then filled with scrambled eggs, goat cheese, mushrooms, and arugula. It’s light, filling, and straightforward—ideal for a holiday brunch or a quick weekday meal.
I’d advise a light-bodied pinot noir if you want to serve the quiche with wine. The sponsor of this article, Robert Mondavi Private Selection, offers a pinot noir that is easily accessible and genuinely perfect. With the tastes of goat cheese, arugula, and Cremini mushrooms, the pinot noir’s sour cherry and oak undertones work beautifully.
Mondavi requested me to give you all some entertaining advice today. My recommendations, which are all rather elementary but sometimes neglected, are based on my experience serving food and attending events as a guest. What are your top suggestions? Please share them with me.
- 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.
Gluten-free almond meal crust
- 2 cups packed 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.