“I received a gift card to offset the expense of my ingredients. By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by the California Milk Advisory Board and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.” If I could trade my everyday life with one other person (other than whoever Joseph Gordon-Levitt is currently dating), it would be my sister-in-law, Caroline. Living in Sonoma, she has the most beautiful wine country for her backyard. If she doesn't feel like cooking, she can pick from dozens of the best farm-to-table restaurants. Her weekends are spent surfing, hiking and sampling incredible wines from the hundreds of nearby vineyards. If that's not enough to make you jealous, her town is also the mecca of artisan cheese. They even have a cheese trail. A cheese trail! It's my happy place.
For this contest, we were instructed to lighten up favorite recipes using California dairy. But I'm kind of bad at following rules. Plus I generally buy whole or 2% (organic) dairy. So instead, I used California dairy to give a rich flavor and luxurious texture to an already healthy dish.
This recipe uses dairy in two different ways. First, I used my absolute favorite blue cheese, Point Reyes to add a hit of intense flavor. Point Reyes is made from grass fed cows raised on coastal pastures in California, which is said to impart a unique flavor to the cheese. It is luxuriously creamy, without the dry, crumbly texture of low quality blue cheese, and has the perfect amount of tang. Point Reyes blue cheese is aged five months, and hey, did you know aged cheese is actually good for you? Not just saying this to rationalize my love for cheese - it is actually the richest food source of vitamin K2, may have anti-inflammatory properties in the mold of blue cheese, and if it's made from grass fed dairy, it contains omega 3 fats.
I also used milk to make a quick bechamel-style sauce I mixed with the eggs. It gives the quiche a creamy, custard-like texture without using heavy cream. Really, you must try this in your next quiche!
With cheese, I always recommend buying quality, which allows you to get a lot of flavor with a small amount. The artisan cheeses produced in Sonoma are some of the best, so definitely look for them at the store. Here are some of my favorites (yes, I've tried them all!) and ideas for incorporating them into healthy dishes:
Laura Chenel's Chevre - The absolute creamiest goat cheese. You can find it at Whole Foods and Earth Fare. Crumble the green and kalamata olive chevre over my citrus, arugula and fennel salad or use the truffle flavored chevre in baked eggs, sweet potatoes and Brussels sprouts. Cowgirl Creamery Mount Tam - A triple creme cheese similar to brie, but with a much more complex flavor. For an elegant side dish or salad topper, filled a roasted portabello mushroom cap with greens sautéed with garlic and olive oil. Top with a slice of creamy Mount Tam and quickly broil. Vella Jack Cheese - Vella Jack cheese is perfect for melting. Use the pesto flavor to make Italian-style quesadillas with roasted tomatoes and spinach or the jalapeno flavor to garnish my quinoa chili. Bohemian Creamery Capriago - Use this aged asiago-style cheese as an alternative to parmesan to garnish pasta dishes, or stuff a chunk into a pitted date and drizzle with reduced balsamic for a simple, elegant appetizer. Cowgirl Creamery Creme Fraiche - Creme fraiche is made from cultured cream, resulting in a decadent, yogurt-like consistency. Whisk in honey and cinnamon and serve drizzled over fresh fruit.
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 8 ounces mushrooms, brushed clean and quartered
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 bunch kale, stemmed and cut into ribbons
- 2 tablespoons spelt or whole wheat flour
- 3/4 cup milk
- 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
- 4 eggs
- 1 frozen whole grain pie crust (I use Wholly Wholesome spelt crust)
- 1/4 cup crumbled California blue cheese
- Handful cherry tomatoes, halved
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet on medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and garlic, saute until liquid starts to release, about 3 minutes. When the liquid starts to release, add the kale and cook until wilted, about 5-7 minutes.
- Meanwhile, heat remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in a small pot on medium heat. Add flour and whisk together. Cook about 30-60 seconds until lightly browned. Whisk in milk and cook about 5 minutes until thickened. Stir in oregano and season with salt and pepper. Turn off heat and set aside to cool.
- Crack eggs into a bowl and whisk in cooled sauce. Spread vegetables evenly in the crust, pour the egg mixture over the top. Sprinkle blue cheese and halved cherry tomatoes, cut side up over the top. Bake for 25 minutes until set.