Is it picnic time yet? I long to sit on a picnic blanket at the merest suggestion of sun. Shaking out one’s feathers and escaping from the confines of home is the best tonic after a long winter. Find a new walk nearby, revel in a view and feast on some food made for the outdoors. Yes.
Like a quiche, but without the faff of the pastry, this incorporates all the light, springtime flavours of the new season’s vegetables.
Prep 15 min
Cook 50 min
250g asparagus, tough ends discarded
½ tbsp olive oil, plus extra for greasing
200g baby spinach, washed
A small knob of butter
For the batter
125ml whole milk
125ml double cream
125g plain flour, sifted
2-3 large handfuls mixed fresh herbs – dill, parsley, basil, tarragon, mint and/or oregano
4 spring onions, trimmed and finely sliced
Salt and black pepper
¼ nut nutmeg
125g goat’s cheese log, crumbled
Heat the oven to 220C (200C fan)/425F/gas 7 and line an oven tray with baking paper. Lay the asparagus in the tray, toss with the oil, season and flatten out into a single layer. Roast for 10-12 minutes, until the spears are just beginning to colour but still have some bite. Set aside to cool and turn down the oven to 180C (160C fan)/350F/gas 4.
Put the peas and spinach in a pan with the butter, season, cover, then steam gently for a few minutes, until the spinach has wilted and the peas are tender. Transfer to a sieve and leave to cool while you line the bottom and sides of a 20cm springform tin with baking paper and cut the asparagus into 2½-5cm lengths.
In a large bowl, beat the eggs, milk and cream. Sift in the flour and whisk briefly to make a batter. Use your hands to squeeze out the excess water from the spinach, then roughly chop it and add to the batter with the peas, a third of the asparagus, the herbs and spring onions. Season generously with salt, pepper and the nutmeg and crumble in the goat’s cheese. Pour the batter into the lined tin and top with the rest of the asparagus arranged artfully around the dish.
Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until puffed up and golden brown. Like a quiche, this is delicious both warm from the oven and at room temperature. Serve with a green salad and buttered bread.
Vegans could leave out the milk and flour, and loading the batter with new potatoes, more herbs and chia instead of egg: I use one tablespoon of ground chia soaked in water for five minutes to replace each egg.