This broccoli quiche tart is a riff on the one my mom used to make, only instead of the store-bought frozen deep dish pie shells, I’ve dressed it up with a cornmeal cheddar crust.
I rarely get to make quiche, because Jimmy doesn’t love it. But I was craving some comfort food and had a bunch of frozen broccoli to use up (even after making broccoli stalk soup!) before we moved last month, so you bet quiche happened.
Since I was making the quiche not just for me, but also to share with you all, I wanted to make it special. I gave it a handmade crust (and by handmade, I do mean “in a food processor”) with crunchy cornmeal and lots of shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese.
The cheddar adds lots of great flavor to the crust, while the cornmeal adds a really nice texture. Because I baked it in a 1-inch high fluted tart pan, the heftier crust means the quiche still feels hearty even though the recipe is smaller overall.
When I was growing up quiche was always for dinner affair, always with canned baked beans on the side.
In college I’d make my mom’s broccoli quiche — two of them, because I couldn’t be bothered to divide the recipe in half — and inevitably end up eating one of them cold out of the fridge for breakfast. Yes, occasionally with cold baked beans, too.
It wasn’t until I spent a summer abroad in London, where beans are a staple of an English breakfast, and quiche appeared often on brunch and breakfast menus that I realized perhaps I’d been on to something with my morning quiches. Of course, the Brits served their quiches warm and on plates with forks, as opposed to eating them with their hands while standing inside the fridge door in their underwear so…
Where was I again? Oh right. Quiche.
You can use fresh or frozen broccoli in the filling, and it’s up to you how small you want your broccoli pieces to be. In a deeper dish broccoli quiche, I usually chop slightly larger pieces, but since this is a shallower quiche tart, I chop my broccoli and onions pretty small.
Did you know that a quiche is technically a baked custard? I always thought of it more like a frittata in a pie shell, but it is, in fact, an egg custard. The mixture inside should be creamy, silky, and soft, but firm enough to hold a cut edge without spilling out when you slice it.
Some quiche recipes use heavy cream or creme frâiche to thicken the custardy egg filling, but this one uses a roux. If you aren’t familiar with what roux is, don’t let it intimidate you — it’s basically just a cooked mixture of butter, flour, and milk. Roux are used as thickeners in sauces, soups, stews, and also, on occasion, quiches.
I rarely have heavy cream in my kitchen, so the roux is a far more practical option for quiche, imo. Butter, milk, and flour on the other hand, are common pantry staples and much easier to come by.
The cheddar cornmeal crust for this broccoli quiche tart is a variation on my go-to tart crust recipe from How to Bake Everything by Mark Bittman. Since quiche is savory, not sweet, I removed the sugar from the recipe and replaced some of the flour with crunchy corn meal.
Just like in my pear and gruyere tart, the shredded cheddar cheese goes in along with the butter so that it incorporates evenly. It helps the crust brown so, so nicely too.
One of the nice things about the cheesy, high-fat content of this dough is that, even chilled, it’s super malleable and very easy to press into the tart pan.
Some tart doughs are delicate and need to be rolled thin before you transfer them to the pan. They’re also hard to stick back together if the dough tears or if you need to patch a hole or thin spot in the dough. Not this tart dough.
This cheddar cornmeal tart dough smooshes easily into the bottom and up the sides of the well-greased tart pan. Use a paring knife to trim any crust that sticks up over the edges of the pan as you work, saving the excess to patch holes or thin spots.
If this is all starting to feel overwhelming, or like it’s just too much work just remember: You can make the crust a day or two in advance and it needs to pre-bake for about 15-20 minutes before you add the filling, which gives you plenty of time to make the eggy filling.
And if the crust is done before the filling, that’s okay too! Let it cool on the counter while you finish up the custard.
Remember: Practical doesn’t always mean quick! This isn’t necessarily a fast recipe, but it is well-paced. You shouldn’t feel rushed while making it, and there are plenty of steps where you can pause until you’re ready to keep going, which sometimes is the most practical thing of all.
a few quick broccoli quiche tart notes
- As with any pastry or pie dough, it is CRUCIAL that you keep your butter and cheese chilled up until the moment before you add them to the food processor. Grate the cheese, cube the butter, then put them back in the fridge until you’re ready to use them.
- If at any point your dough seems too soft or too warm, wrap it in saran wrap and pop it back in the fridge for 15-20 minutes. Your dough is most at risk for becoming too warm while you’re pressing it into the tart pan.
- Always add the cheese at the same time that you add the butter. If you add it after the butter has been cut into the dry ingredients, the cheese won’t incorporate evenly into the dough.
- Water evaporation is the reason pie and tart doughs shrink when you bake them. There’s a lot of moisture in the cheese and butter, so resist adding any more than the 1 TBSP of ice water the recipe calls for. If the dough really isn’t coming together (meaning: if you squeeze a handful of it, it doesn’t stick to itself) then you can add more ice water a teeny tiny bit at a time just until the dough forms.
- Docking the chilled tart crust means poking it all over with a fork before you bake it. These holes create paths for steam to escape and will help prevent your tart crust from bubbling as it bakes. If you’ve frozen your tart crust for longer than 20-30 minutes (e.g. overnight) you may need to let it defrost slightly before you dock it so that it doesn’t crack when you poke it.
- Any cheddar cheese will work here, but I prefer and recommend using an extra sharp cheese for a really intense cheddar flavor.
- I did, of course, convert everything to weight measurements for accuracy. Honestly, if you’re still baking without a kitchen scale in this, the year 2020, what are you even doing? As always, I included volume measurements as well, but think of them more as a guideline so you don’t find yourself trying to weigh 100 grams of flour with a teaspoon.
other recipes you might like
- pear and gruyere tart
- cumin roasted broccolini with lemon yogurt sauce
- triple mint chocolate tart with thin mint crust
- breakfast pizza with béchamel sauce and a fried egg on top
- broccoli stalk soup
broccoli quiche tart with cornmeal cheddar crust
cornmeal cheddar crust
- 100 grams all-purpose flour (1 scant cup)
- 50 grams cornmeal (⅓ cup)
- ¼ tsp fine sea salt
- 113 grams butter (½ cup, cut into cubes and chilled)
- ⅓ cup cheddar cheese (shredded)
- 1 egg yolk (reserve egg white for quiche filling)
- 1 TBSP ice water
broccoli quiche filling
- 3 TBSP butter (divided)
- ½ cup onion (diced)
- 1 cup broccoli (fresh or frozen, stalks and florets, diced)
- 1½ TBSP flour
- ¾ cup milk
- salt and pepper
- 2 large eggs (lightly beaten)
- 1 egg white (leftover from crust)
- ¾ cup low-moisture mozzarella cheese (shredded)
cornmeal cheddar tart crust dough
- Cut butter into cubes. Grate cheddar cheese. Combine in a bowl or container in the fridge and chill until ready to use.
- In the bowl of a food processor, pulse together flour, cornmeal, and salt.
- Add chilled butter and cheese. Continue pulsing until the flour mixture is the texture of sand.
- Add the egg yolk and pulse to combine.
- With the machine running on low, drizzle in 1 TBSP ice water. Let the machine run 15-20 seconds more. The dough should come together and form a ball on the blade in the bowl. If it doesn't, add the tiniest bit more ice water. Repeat, letting the machine run after each addition of water, until the dough forms a ball. Resist adding any more water than you absolutely need to.
- Shape the dough into a flat disc and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill in the fridge 30 minutes.
- Spray a 9" fluted tart pan with removable bottom generously with non-stick spray.
- Unwrap the dough and press it into the bottom of the tart pan. Use your hands to press it flat into all the corners and edges, and up the sides of the pan. This may take 5-10 minutes to finesse. Periodically run a knife or bench scraper flat along the rim of the pan to trim off any excess dough. Use that dough to patch thin spots.
- Use a round container with a flat bottom and 90° angled sides to really press the tart crust into the corners at a right angle. When the tart is pressed in and even all the way around (it should be about ⅛" thick), dock the crust all over with a fork to prevent bubbling.
- Wrap the crust in saran wrap and place it in the freezer for at least 20 minutes or up to a week before baking.
broccoli quiche filling, assembly, and baking
- Preheat oven to 375°F.
- Remove the frozen tart shell from the freezer. Bake the tart crust for 15 minutes so that it doesn't get soggy when you add the filling.
- While the crust bakes, make the filling: Lightly beat the eggs, then add the mozzarella to the egg mixture and stir to combine. Set aside.
- Melt 1 TBSP butter over medium heat. Sauté onion and broccoli until onion is soft and broccoli is bright green. Remove from skillet.
- In the same skillet, melt an additional 2 TBSP butter over low medium heat. As soon as the butter melts, whisk in the flour and stir until a thick paste forms.
- Gradually whisk in the milk and continue whisking until the paste becomes thick and smooth. This is your roux. Season with salt and pepper, then gradually whisk the egg and cheese mixture into the roux. Adding the eggs gradually prevents them from scrambling. Keep stirring until quite thick and creamy, a few minutes more.
- Finally, add the broccoli and onion back to the skillet and stir to combine. Remove the skillet from the stove.
- When the crust is done, remove it from the oven. If it has bubbled up at all, poke it gently with a fork so that it settles down.
- Pour the broccoli filling into the crust, making sure not to go over the top edge. Top it with a generous blanket of shredded cheddar cheese.
- Place the filled tart shell on a sheet pan (in case of spillage) and bake the quiche for 30 minutes until cheese has browned and the filling has domed slightly on top.
- Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack. The filling will settle down as it cools Place the tart pan on a small overturned bowl or cup and let the outer ring fall off.
- Let cool 10-15 minutes before slicing. Serve warm or at room temperature.
- Resist adding any more ice water to the tart dough than you need to. The water evaporates when the tart bakes causing shrinkage — you really want to keep the amount of liquid here absolutely minimal. If you live somewhere humid, you may not even need any water.