Recipe: Cure Your Cold With Onion Quiche

I get the sniffles a few times a year, usually around allergy season. Because of the timing, I generally chalk it up to pollen and try to get on with my life, but there's something about the clogging of my sinuses that leads to a general clogging of the brain, which probably explains why, on a day when I was feeling all-around miserable, I decided that the only possible solution to my woes was to cook onions into some kind of pie.

Had I had my wits about me, I might have tried to get really fancy and make this a tart (or I would have put this project aside to do when I wasn't feeling quite so far under the weather), but it's really more of a quiche, due to the unashamed use of store bought pie crust and over-application of egg. Let's call it Onion Quiche, then. Whatever it was, it fixed my sinuses and it tasted delicious, so I win double.


Fortunately, I was present enough to take some photos, which means a recipe to share.

Onion Quiche (makes 2)

  • 1 pie crust (I used frozen because I was sick, but you can use homemade if you are an overachiever)
  • 4 lbs onions
  • 1 bunch swiss chard
  • 1/3 cup half and half (or milk, but half and half is best)
  • 3 eggs
  • Sharp grated cheese
  • Salt and pepper
  • Herbes de Provence, to taste
I strongly recommend making this if you are stuffed up. It will help, and if caramelized onions aren't one of your comfort foods then I feel like I, as a friend, need to suggest that you seriously re-think some of your life choices (unless you are allergic to onions, in which case you get a pass). 

Begin by staring down at your giant pile of onions and asking yourself what, exactly, you were thinking. Shake your head dubiously and push through that feeling, because what you were thinking was that thin-slicing four pounds of onions is a brilliant idea. Get to slicing. Try to hold your breath through the first two pounds or so. This step is best if you use really potent onions. You know, the kind so pungent that by the time you are done every part of your fact that can release liquid is doing so in copious amounts. Relish the feeling of being able to breathe through your nose again and tell yourself that permanent blindness due to onion toxicity is worth it. 

Put your four pounds of thin-sliced onions into a large pan, preferably cast iron, with just a little bit of butter.

The secret to why this recipe makes your cold feel better
I say "preferably cast iron" for several reasons, only some of which I will get into now. For the moment, let it suffice to say that cast iron is my favorite thing to cook in because it flavors whatever it cooks, it adds iron to your food (you know, like the kind you get from your multivitamin), and it provides a lovely, even heat that makes it easy to cook things.

During this stage, look around you for anything fun and tasty that might be good to add to the dish other than onions. Maybe you picked something up at the farmer's market that you then felt totally uninspired about cooking? Like some swiss chard? Now is the time! Start cutting that sucker up!

Colors mean vitamins!
Have a moment of serious panic when, in your delirium, you suddenly wonder if the farmer accidentally mixed rhubarb in with your chard. Are you cutting up rhubarb leaves to feed your household? Are you about to give everyone oxalic acid poisoning? 

Probably not. Take a deep breath and keep going. While the onions are cooking (this is going to take a while, did I mention?), it is a good opportunity for you to pull out your shameful pre-made pie crust and preheat the oven to 425. 

Store bought--tastes like not being as good as your other homemaker friends!

I used a spelt flour crust, because I can't eat wheat without getting sharp, stabby pains in my stomach a few hours later. I used frozen crust, because I am terrible at making pie crust, and I was also in a hurry. You can use whatever kind of crust you like. 

Note: I did not pre-cook my pie crust, but next time I make these I am going to do so, because the crust got a little soggy around the bottom. I recommend pre-cooking at least a little bit to make sure you have a nice, dry crust to support your filling.

Now is also a good time to assemble your other ingredients and take some pictures of them because even though everyone knows what eggs look like you are having fun with your camera and feeling bored because there isn't much left to do until those onions are done cooking.

Not a joke: I once heard someone say "the brown eggs are healthier because they haven't been bleached"

Crack your 3 or 4 eggs into a mixing bowl and beat them with a fork or a whisk. I don't really remember which one I used, because the sudden clearing of all blockage from my nose, sinuses, and lungs was making me feel a little woozy. It was probably a fork. Anyway, mix the eggs up until they are nice and mixed, and then add your third-cup of half and half. 

Note: If you are an eater of a low-fat diet, I can see where the fact that this recipe uses a third of a cup of half and half would seem kind of repugnant to you. However, let me assure you of a few things:
  • A little fat is good for you
  • This might not be French cooking, but it's close, and it genuinely won't taste as good with milk
  • By the time this is divided into two pies, we're talking 52 calories per pie from half and half. Not insignificant, but divide that again between the eight slices per pie and you're looking at a mere additional 6.5 calories per serving, so if you can I hope you are able to just hold your nose, close your eyes, and use the good stuff.
  • You are dying of the flu or some kind of sinus thing and you need to cut yourself some slack
Anyway, throw caution to the wind and mix that half and half in with the eggs until it is so mixed you will never be able to take back the decision to use half and half instead of skim milk (yuck). Add a dash of salt and pepper and any herbs that you think will make your food extra delicious, such as herbes de provence, which are a staple for all my quickie not-quite-French food.

At this point, your onions should look like this:

I would eat caramelized onions as a meal unto itself if I didn't think people would
look at me strangely

Salt the onions until they taste good to you, then remove them from your cast iron pan and use the pan with the leftover onion juice and little bits of butter to saute the swiss chard (or whatever refrigerator orphans you happened to find). This doesn't have to be insanely cooked. If it is a green leafy something or other, just cook it until the stems start to get soft and the leaves are nice and wilty. 

Divide your onions between your two pie crusts. Add anything you're going to add, vegetable wise. I added chard to one and left the other as just straight onion because onion pie. Seriously, is another reason necessary?

Pour your egg mixture over the onions and use a finger or a chopstick or a fork or something to carefully distribute the egg mixture evenly among the onions and vegetables. Seriously, be careful, or you will rip the bottom of your pie crust and that will make you sad. 

At this point, unless you have gone horribly wrong somewhere, you will have something that looks kind of like this:

Actually, when uncooked these really look sort of gross

As you can see above, I also took this opportunity to add a handful of shredded cheese to the top of each. I was a little concerned about overdoing it but Mr. Scrimp says I could have used much more and only improved the flavor, so next time there will be substantially more cheese involved. I opted for a very strong parmesan reggiano style cheese because I like the sharp wine-y flavor of it and because I was a little worried that if my stuffy nose came back I wouldn't be able to taste anything weaker. 

At this point, the only things left for you to do are to put these beauties in the oven, clean your kitchen, and wait. It takes roughly half an hour but you should check them every so often just to be sure, because every oven is different. They are ready to come out when they are just set in the middle. Let them sit for at around 15 minutes before serving. 

When they are done, they should look something like this.

These are delicious eaten hot. They are also delicious eaten cold. Or basically any other time. We had ours hot for lunch and then we had leftovers cold for dinner. The next day, I had a slice for breakfast. This is a versatile food, people.

One final note: Because of the caramelizing of the onions this recipe does require you to be in your kitchen and at least sort of paying attention for about 45 minutes, so don't add this to your list of "quick things to cook when I am out of time." It will make you sad if you put it there.

What is your favorite sick time comfort food?

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