I did not start out making this Crustless Quinoa Spinach Quiche because tomorrow is Pi Day and this is a fabulous, savory pie. Nor did I focus on the facts that this quiche is gluten-free and also Passover-friendly. But it is all of those things. Plus, I realized that the spinach filling makes it a vegetarian St. Patrick’s Day feast.
My version is adapted from a Food 52 quinoa and kale crustless quiche I learned about from my friend Wendy. I do try to like kale, but honestly, I prefer spinach. And that version didn’t have enough onion or cheese to satisfy me.
I’m now happy with the dish as modified. In fact, though I pretended to be upset, I was actually delighted that my beloved ate the last piece before I could grab it from the refrigerator.
Besides giving me the initial idea to make this, Wendy also helped me to understand why my first attempt didn’t work. That time, I did my usual with quinoa, toasting it and using less water than recipes typically call for. That made the quiche too dry. Not quite inedible, but definitely not a raving success.
It wasn’t a total loss however. My beloved came close to nixing it. But instead, always a constructive critic, he suggested adding a dipping sauce. After I was done being offended at his honesty, I realized he was right. And that led to my homemade spicy red sauce (Arrabbiata), which saved the dry toasted quinoa version and provided a new Italian American-style sauce for my repertoire.
Tips for Making Crustless Quinoa Spinach Quiche
- The quinoa should be fluffy. Although I usually toast quinoa and use less water than most cooks, for this recipe I don’t toast the quinoa and use a full 2-to-1 ratio of water to quinoa. BTW – DId you know that quinoa is technically not a grain? It’s actually a seed– loaded with protein and fiber. Also, see the note in the recipe for a cite on whether you need to rinse quinoa before cooking.
- Fresh or frozen spinach – your choice and the trade-offs. I prefer fresh on general principles. I find large size (16 ounce) containers of baby spinach, the amount this recipe requires, at most grocery stores where I shop. Also, when you cook fresh, you can control the liquid and not overcook the spinach. By contrast, frozen is more compact and easier to store. It tends to be water heavy and get overcooked quickly, but if you are careful with the cooking, it’s a good alternative.
- How to pick your cheeses. Use any medium hard cheese for grating or a combination. I like sharp cheddar, but can imagine many other possibilities. If you prefer a milder cheddar or another flavor, that’s fine. As long as you can grate it, those other cheeses will work. For the soft cheese, either soft goat cheese, cream cheese or a combination work well.
- Optional flavorings. I added a teaspoon of dried dill. It added to the overall flavor, but I could not identify the herb once I baked the quiche. Consider using more dill if you like that herb. Or if you prefer, leave it out or substitute another herb, such as thyme or tarragon.
However you choose to make this savory pie your own and for whichever holiday – or just for a “regular” day, enjoy this easy, healthy, one dish meal.
Crustless Quinoa Spinach Quiche
A simple, healthy alternative to traditional quiche. The quinoa gives the quiche body and the filling is primarily spinach, cheese, onion, and garlic. No crust at all, but it cuts like a quiche
- 1/2 cup quinoa 3.2 oz/90 g
- 1 cup water
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided + more if using oil to grease the pie pan
- 2 cups onions (yellow), thinly sliced 8 oz/230 g. See note
- 2 cloves fresh garlic, thinly sliced
- spinach, either 16 oz/ g fresh or 10 oz/ g frozen. If fresh, lightly rinse and allow water to drip off. If frozen, defrost, then press most of the water out. 454 g fresh or 284 g frozen
- 3 oz soft cheese - cream cheese, soft goat cheese or a combination 89 g
- 3/4 cup medium hard cheese such as sharp cheddar, crumbled or grated + more if you want to spread cheese on top 3 oz/ 88 g
- 4 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon dried dill See note
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated black pepper
Preheat the oven to 350° F/180° C. Grease a 9" deep dish pie plate, either with olive oil or baking spray
Rinse the quinoa well in the pot or a small bowl - optional. See note below. Put the quinoa and water in the small pot and bring to a rolling boil on the stovetop. Immediately reduce the heat to medium so that the quinoa simmers for about 12-15 minutes, until all the quinoa absorbs all the water and the tiny curls at the end of each quinoa seed begin to uncurl. Once the quinoa is done, set it aside.
While the quinoa is cooking, heat 1 & 1/2 tablespoons of the oil in a large pan. Once the oil is hot but not smoking, slowly cook the sliced onions on medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until they begin to brown. This will probably take about the same amount of time as to cook the quinoa. At the very end of cooking, add the garlic and continue cooking for about 1 minute.
Add the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of oil to the pan and heat it. Add the spinach and cook on medium heat with cover until the fresh spinach is cooked or the frozen spinach is heated through.
Let the spinach cool down a bit, remove any excess water, and then add the spinach to the large bowl with the onions and garlic. Add the quinoa, and the medium hard and soft cheeses to the spinach/onion/garlic and mix all those ingredients until they are well combined.
Whisk the 4 eggs in a small bowl with the salt, pepper and optional flavorings. Add the eggs to the mixture in the large bowl, stir it again and pour the entire mixture into the pie plate. If desired, add some additional grated cheese on top. Bake for about 45-55 minutes. When done the pie should darken slightly at the edges and pull away from the sides. Let it rest for 5-10 minutes before cutting into slices. to reheat, microwave on medium-high or put in the oven at 350° F/180° C until warm/hot.
I prefer yellow onions. But other types of onions work well, as do shallots.
Do you need to rinse quinoa before cooking it? There is a dispute as to whether you need to rinse quinoa before cooking. Some say quinoa has a bitter taste unless you rinse it (including Bob's Red Mill), while others (e.g. The Kitchn) say that there is no bitterness in unrinsed quinoa and that unrinsed, it retains a nuttier taste. I am in the former camp, but respect those who hold the latter view. Take your pick.