There is nothing nicer than a slice of quiche for lunch. Whether it’s a hot day and you are having it with a selection of side salads or it’s cold day and you are eating it warm from the oven, it’s perfect lunch fare. I think it’s years of working in hospitals and being forced to eat prepackaged sandwiches in stolen moments that have pretty much turned me off from having sandwiches for lunch ever again but make me a quiche, with my favourite pizza dough base, and I’ll be all over that tasty dish! This one is seasonally apt filled with roasted squash and flavoured with fresh thyme and topped with sticky onions and toasted nuts. My Butternut, Ricotta & Pine Nut Quiche needs to be on your lunch menu too.
If you have had roasted squash for another dish – like a roast dinner or in this risotto – then you can skip that stage in this recipe. I often double up my quiches to make the effort feel worth it as they freeze brilliantly for future speedy meals. As I’ve used ricotta as the main dairy element in the savoury custard that you make up to fill a quiche with, I’ve added some Greek yogurt to bring a little tang against the cream blandness of the ricotta and used a little sharp Red Leicester in the filling as well as on top as a seasoning. The roasted squash will have caramelised edges giving extra sweetness which is amplified by adding some strands of sticky onions on top too. I make slowly cooked onions with a little sugar and balsamic vinegar and they bring out the flavour of the squash beautifully. As a final flourish, I scatter the top with a handful of toasted pine nuts to give toasty flavoured texture and bite. Keep any extra pine nuts in the freezer as they rapidly go rancid if you don’t use them quickly.
If you’ve seen any of my other quiche recipes, you’ll know I make a pizza dough as the casing instead of short crust pastry. One tip I’ve come up with through making tons of quiches this way is no matter how nonstick your tart tin is, it will benefit from having a light dusting of flour and fine polenta (cornmeal) before adding the dough. Like making French bread or pizzas proper, the polenta acts like little tiny ballbearings that allow rapid and easy release from the tin. Also, after my day of baking with Dan Lepard, I have been converted to using a Welsh bakestone for all my pastry and bread making – it’s a circular piece of steel a little under a centimetre thick which conducts heat very well and gives you a perfectly crisp finish to all your bases – no soggy bottoms here! You can pick them up for well under £20 and they last a lifetime or more so well worth the investment. If not, use a heavy duty baking sheet and either way, allow the stone or the sheet half an hour to get good and hot before you pop your Butternut, Ricotta & Pine Nut Quiche on top to bake.
- 160 g strong white bread flour
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 3/4 tsp dried yeast
- 110 g water approx
- 1 tbsp fine polenta plus 1 tbsp bread flour to dust the tin with
- 500 g butternut squash
- Oil spray
- 6 stems of fresh thyme
- 125 g ricotta
- 100 g Greek yogurt
- 3 large eggs
- 4 tbsp grated Red Leicester cheese
- 2 rounded tbsp caramelised onions*
- 2 tbsp toasted pine nuts**
- 23 cm loose bottomed tart tin
- Baking tray or pizza stone
Start by roasting the squash, if not using leftovers from another meal. Peel and cut the squash into 1.5cm cubes. Spray a baking tray liberally with oil and place the squash on top, sprinkling over the leaves from 2-3 stems of thyme. Roast at 200˚C for 35 minutes, turning once halfway through. Leave to cool.
Mix the dough ingredients together and beat with a dough hook in a stand mixer for 5-10 minutes until you have a soft and slightly tacky dough. Bring together into a ball, grease the bowl and cover, leaving to prove for at least one hour but you can leave it 24 hours in the fridge.
Preheat oven to 180˚C with either a bakestone or a baking tray on the middle shelf to heat up.
Dust the base of the tart tin with the polenta and flour then when the dough is proved, punch dough and pat out to a round slightly smaller than your tart tin on a lightly floured work surface.
Transfer to the prepared tin and pat and push the dough up the sides of the tin - I tack it over the rim a little so it doesn't shrink back.
Scatter the base with the roasted squash.
Lightly beat the ricotta, yogurt and eggs to mix then add in the remaining thyme and half the Red Leicester. Pour over the squash. Distribute the onions over the top of the quiche.
Scatter the top with the pine nuts and remaining cheese then bake for 40 minutes until the dough cooked and the filling slightly puffed up with minimal wibble wobble in the middle if you give it a little shake.
Cool on a rack for at least 15 minutes before serving. It should be easy to unmould from the tin if you use the polenta and flour to line it with and cooking it on a bakestone will give you a lovely crisp base.
Will keep in the fridge for 48 hours and can be frozen very successfully. Can be eaten warmed through or cold from the fridge if preferred.
**= toast your pine nuts in a dry frying pan over medium high heat for 3-4 minutes, tossing regularly to prevent burning. Transfer to a plate to cool until needed.
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