What Makes Mama Happy, part II (Mama Don’t Do Crust Quiche)

As promised in the last post, here’s a recipe with ramps. My take on this new-to-me ingredient was “eh.” They are tasty, but no more so than a mixture of carmelized onions and garlic, sauted shallots, or the “onion grass” I used to harvest from our yard and use like chives. So go for the ramps for this recipe, or experiment a little on your own, but don’t expect heaven to drift down and alight on your table.

The name of this recipe comes from the fact that I just do not like to make crust. It takes too much work and heartbreak, and for what? Something made with white flour (usually) and shortening that most people don’t even notice because they’re so into the filling.

But that being said, you can make this with a prepared crust just as easily. Or, if you have the touch and the patience, feel free to use your own crust recipe and know that you are a better man than I.

By the way, you could probably make this crust with a number of other soaked whole grains like buckwheat, millet, or quinoa. If you try any of those, I’d love to know how it comes out!

Note that all of the vegetables should be thoroughly washed before preparing. Ramps and greens are especially good at harboring grit.

Okay, on to the recipe (after the jump).

Mama Don’t Do Crust Quiche with Ramps, Asian Greens, and a Wheat Berry Shell


2 Tbs. cooking oil or butter
1 cup or so whole ramps or onions, chopped
1 cup baby Asian greens, packed (or grown-up greens, coarsely chopped)
6-ish shiitake mushrooms, fresh or reconstituted from dry, julienned (optional)

1 1/2 cups wheat berries, soaked for 6-8 hours
1/2 stick butter, cold
1/2 tsp. sea salt, or to taste

4 large eggs
1/2 cup milk or cream
1/2 tsp. sea salt and a few good grinds of black pepper, or to taste

1/2-3/4 cup cheddar, swiss, or other cheese, grated

What to Do
In a skillet, heat oil or butter. Add ramps or onions and reduce heat to medium-low. Allow ramps or onions to caramelize for about 10 minutes. Make sure they cook slowly and turn golden brown rather than dark brown.

Add a little more butter or oil, increase the heat, and add the Asian greens and shiitakes. Stir fry everything together for about 5 minutes, or until the greens are cooked but not mushy. Remove from heat and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 F. To make the shell (not crust!), grind the wheat berries and salt in a food processor until it resembles a coarse nut meal. Use the food processor or a pastry blender to cut in the butter. Dump into a 9″ deep dish pie pan–or divide among a conglomeration of various pans of various shapes and sizes–and press evenly into the bottom and sides. This should form a shell that looks remarkably like a thick crust, though your forehead will look remarkably unlike that of someone who has just made a crust, being free of perspiration and furrowed lines. Bake for about 10 minutes.

To make the custard, in a medium mixing bowl, beat the eggs. Then add the milk and salt and pepper.

Remove the pie pans from the oven but leave the oven on. Prick the bottom several times with a fork. Line the bottom evenly with grated cheese, then layer on the greens, ramps, etc. Pour the custard over it all, stopping a little before it reaches the rim of the pan.

Bake in the 350 F oven for 25-35 minutes, until the center is set and the sides puff up. Allow to cool and set for a few minutes before serving.

For a nice springy meal, serve with a salad of arugula and baby greens topped with grilled or broiled asparagus.


4 thoughts on “What Makes Mama Happy, part II (Mama Don’t Do Crust Quiche)

  1. I’m sorry you found ramps disappointing! The point of ramps is that they’re basically the first green thing to come up and you can pick them out in the woods, which is exciting. Also they are best when you eat huge amounts of them at a time, like when they’re grilled in big public festivals in western North Carolina. Up here, anyway, they are the only vegetables to come in so far, besides radishes, and radishes are even less sexy than ramps.

  2. Ah! This makes it all so much clearer. I guess I’m spoiled out here with asparagus and greens already in abundance. We need to create more radish recipes. I’ve heard tell of grilling them…

  3. Hello Rhea.
    An FYI on the crust – i’ve never understood why people are so intimidated by it. If you have a food processor, it literally takes 5 minutes to make. Here’s how: Blend dry ingredients (1 cup flour, 1 scant tsp salt, 1 TBS sugar depending on if the recipe you are making is sweet or savory). then add 1 stick butter cut up straight out of the freezer (this is important), blend until it is a pebbly consistancy and then add one egg. If the dough does not adhere to itself at this point, you can add a little bit of ice water. Cover it all in wax paper, and stick in the freezer until you are ready to roll it out. Obviosly, you can also add seasonings like lemon zest, etc.

  4. Thanks, Ariela. I think the rolling out step is what scares me. I’m not really disciplined enough to roll it out evenly or make sure it doesn’t tear. I’m also not patient enough to refrigerate or freeze it :/ I really should try it, though. It helps to have a tried and true recipe!

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