Monday, July 12, 2010

The Veggie Whisperer

Since making the switch from store bought produce to farmer's market produce I feel a serious connection to my food. Even more so since I started a container garden in my stairwell. Needless to say I find myself aspiring to become a veggie whisperer. Sometimes the veggies just tell me what they wish to become. Apparently a lot of my veggies like transforming into tofu quiches. That or my boyfriend has been playing a lot of music with subliminal messages demanding a quiche even on the hottest of days. Whatever the case I'm hooked on a feelin'! I've been making these bad boys every which way, but this so far has been my favorite.

Tofu Quiche with Asparagus, Leeks and Eryngii Mushrooms


  • 2 C unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 C vegetable shortening, chilled and chopped into small pieces
  • 1 ts sea salt
  • 4-8 TB very cold water with ice


  • 1 1/3 packages of firm tofu, drained
  • 3 TB olive oil + 1 TB for sauteeing
  • 2 large garlic cloves + 1 clove, minced
  • 3 heaping TB nutritional yeast
  • 2 ts onion powder
  • 1 ts turmeric
  • 1 ts black salt
  • 1/2 ts sea salt + a few fresh grinds of pepper
  • 1 TB fresh oregano, chopped or 1/2 ts dried oregano
  • 2-3 sprigs fresh Thyme or 1/2 ts dried thyme
  • 1/2 TB fresh Italian flat parsley or 1/4 ts dried parsley
  • 1/3 C Daiya vegan cheddar (or your favorite shredded vegan cheddar)
  • 3/4 C Eryngii (King Oyster) mushrooms, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 C leeks, thinly sliced
  • 5-6 Asparagus spears, trimmed and sliced, tips reserved for topping


Preparing the crust

In a large bowl combine flour and salt, mix thoroughly. With fingers, forks or a pastry cutter work quickly to cut vegetable shortening into the flour salt mixture. If using hands, pinch shortening into flour. Resulting mixture will have fat chunks the size of a pea. Spoon in chilled water one tablespoon at a time, mixing gently with a fork after each addition. Use only as much water as you need to gently form the dough into a ball. Handle the dough as little as possible to avoid creaming the lumps of fat into the flour. There should be small balls of fat throughout the dough as this encourages a flaky crust. Overworking the dough will make it tough and dense. Split the dough into two equal amounts. Pat them into balls and wrap them in plastic wrap. Allow dough to rest in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. Dough can be made a day ahead.

Rolling out the dough

Remove one ball of dough from the refrigerator and place on a well floured, flat surface. Sprinkle a little flour on the ball and flatten gently with hands. Using a lightly dusted rolling pin, begin rolling at the center of the dough and work outwards. For easier clean up you can roll out the dough between sheets of waxed paper. Working quickly, roll the dough into a circle ¼-inch thick or smaller. Be sure to make dough a few inches larger than your pie pan or dish.

Gently fold the dough in half, and then into quarters and carefully place it into a lightly oiled pie plate so the center of dough is in the center of the pan. Carefully unfold the dough and press into the pan. Trim any excess dough and feel free to pinch the edges to make a fancy edge around the crust. Cover gently with waxed paper and place in refrigerator while you prepare your filling.

Preparing the filling

Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees.

In a food processor add chunks of the tofu, two garlic cloves, nutritional yeast, onion powder, turmeric, pepper grinds, salt and black salt. Stream in the oil and process until smooth. Remove mixture from processor and pour into bowl using a spatula or scraper to get every last bit. Add in fresh herbs.

Meanwhile bring a large pot of salted water to boil and add in the asparagus. Cook for 1 minute, remove from hot water and place into a bowl of ice water to halt the cooking process. Remove from ice water, lightly pat dry and set aside.

In a large saute pan heat 1 TB of oil and saute the leeks and the minced garlic clove for about 6 minutes, add the chopped mushrooms and continue cooking until soft. Remove from heat and set aside.

Remove chilled pie crust from refrigerator. With a fork make a few holes in the bottom of the crust. Place a sheet of parchment paper on the crust and add pie weights, dry beans or dry rice to help blind bake the dough. This keeps the dough from getting soggy from the filling and prevents air bubbles from forming. Bake for 10 minutes.

While the crust is blind baking, fold in the Daiya, leeks, mushrooms and asparagus to the tofu mixture and gently mix to combine. Reserve a few asparagus tips as a decorative topping for the quiche. Pour mixture into your pre-baked pie crust, arrange asparagus in an whatever formation you like (I like stars) and bake for 45 or until crust is golden and tofu is firm. Allow 10 minutes to cool. Serve warm or at room temperature.


1.) Left over dough can be used for all kinds of deliciousness like pot pie casserole. Dough is also great for fruit pies. Fill with your favorite fruit or pie fillings, then brush with soymilk and sprinkle with sugar.

2.) Get adventurous. Check out your farmers market and purchase local, seasonal veggies for your quiche. My favorite combos so far: Kale, Leeks and Cheddar (see below); Spinach and Mushrooms; Spinach, Leeks and Zucchini. The possibilities are endless!

3.) Black salt can be found at most Indian spice stores or can be found online. It imparts an egg-y, sulfuric aroma that really fools the mind and ups the egginess to another level. Use it in tofu scrambles or any egg imitation you like. Use with caution -- it is salt after all.

4.) I almost always use Daiya cheddar cheese for my quiches. It makes things seem more egg-y.

Don't be surprised if you end up making this three times a month. It's a labor of love, but you will reap the rewards.

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