“I never liked Valentine’s Day when I was single,” says Shauna James Ahern, the blogger and cookbook author also known as Gluten-Free Girl.
This was before she met her now-husband Daniel Ahern, a restaurant chef, almost exactly one year after she was diagnosed with celiac disease. He turned his restaurant gluten-free so that he could feed her everything that he made.
Forget that fancy restaurant reservation. A delicious, nutritious homemade dinner means more than any bunch of roses. “I’ll tell you, if someone is willing to do the research and make me a safe meal, that is an act of real love…and a huge turn-on,” says Ahern.
Ahern remembers a quiche the pair had while honeymooning in Rome: it featured a brown rice crust and a filling of chicken, kale and preserved lemons. It was so good that she included the recipe in Gluten-Free Girl Every Day, her latest cookbook.
The protein, greens and the brightness from the lemons make for a one-dish dinner that’s perfect for Valentine’s Day, says Ahern. Though the recipe calls for brown rice, you can use any leftover cooked rice you have on hand, which makes this quiche just as easy, every day.
Brown Rice Quiche with Chicken, Kale, and Preserved Lemons
- FOR THE PRESERVED LEMONS (makes about 2 cups):
- 4 large lemons (organic is best, since you will be eating the peel)
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons sugar (CP suggests palm sugar)
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, toasted
- 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander, toasted
- 1 small bay leaf
- FOR THE CASHEW CREAM (makes 1 quart):
- 2 cups raw whole cashews
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (optional)
- 1 tablespoon honey (optional)
- FOR THE QUICHE:
- Neutral-tasting oil for greasing the pan (CP suggests grapeseed oil)
- 4 cups cooked brown rice, at room temperature
- 8 large eggs
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cups milk (nondairy milk works fine here too)
- 2 cups cashew cream or 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- Several scrapings fresh nutmeg
- 1 cup shredded roasted chicken (preferably organic)
- 1/2 bunch Lacinato kale, finely chopped (you can use any kind of kale you want)
- 1/4 cup Preserved Lemons
- 3/4 cup grated Gruyere
- TO MAKE THE PRESERVED LEMONS:
- Preparing the lemons. Scrub the lemons with water. Take the ends off. Slice the lemons lengthwise, in thirds. Take out the seeds. Cut up the lemons into 1-inch pieces.
- Combining the ingredients. Toss together the salt, sugar, toasted cinnamon, toasted coriander, and the bay leaf. Add the lemons, making sure to include the juice, and mix up everything together.
- Put the lemon mixture into an airtight container. Let them sit for at least 3 hours before using.
- TO MAKE THE CASHEW CREAM:
- Soaking the cashews. Put the cashews in a large bowl. Cover them with cold water. Set aside to sit overnight.
- Adding the other ingredients. In the morning, drain the cashews, which should be plumped up and softened. Put them in a blender. If you are making a savory cashew milk, add the salt and lemon juice. If you will be using the cashew milk for sweeter treats, add the honey. Cover the cashews with enough fresh water to cover them by 1 inch.
- Blending the cashew milk. Blend the cashews and water until the milk is smooth, 3 to 5 minutes. Add more water, 1 tablespoon at a time if the blender is working too hard. If you have a high-quality blender, the cashew milk will be ready to use at this point. If your blender needs a little help, strain the cashew milk through a fine-mesh sieve to set apart the remaining cashew bits.
- Refrigerate the cashew milk for at least 2 hours before using. It will thicken and the flavors will settle
- To make a thicker cashew cream, use only enough water to barely cover the cashews in the blender. The longer you keep this in the refrigerator, the more it will thicken. We usually make recipes that need cashew milk the first few days and cashew cream the rest of the week.
- TO MAKE THE QUICHE:
- Preparing to bake. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Lightly grease the inside of a 9-inch springform pan.
- Making the brown rice crust. Combine the rice and 2 of the eggs in a large bowl. Using your hands, smoosh them all together until you have a slightly wet pile of rice. Season with salt and pepper.
- Wet your hands. Press the rice mixture into the springform pan. Your hands will be sticky with it and the rice will cling to itself at times--don’t worry. Keep working, patiently, until the rice mixture has evenly covered the bottom and halfway up the sides of the springform pan.
- Put the pan on the baking sheet and slide it in the oven. Bake until the crust is set and just starting to brown, 20 to 30 minutes. Remove the crust from the oven and let it cool to room temperature.
- Making the batter. Pour 1 cup of the milk, 1 cup of the cashew cream, 3 of the remaining eggs, 1/2 tablespoon of salt, and a couple of pinches of fresh nutmeg in a blender. Blend on low speed for 10 seconds. Turn up the speed to high and blend until the mixture is frothy, about 30 seconds. Pour this into the cooled quiche crust.
- Layering the ingredients for the quiche. Scatter the chicken, kale, preserved lemons, and 1/2 cup of the Gruyere evenly over the bottom of the quiche crust.
- Finishing the quiche. Blend the remaining ingredients for the batter in the same manner as instructed above. Pour this in to the quiche shell, taking care to cover all the ingredients. Scatter the rest of the Gruyere on top.
- Baking the quiche. Bake the quiche until the eggs are firmly set and the top is browned, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Remove the quiche from the oven and let it cool completely to room temperature before serving.
To be honest, this quiche (like all quiches) gets better every day that it is in the refrigerator. It’s worth making the day before.
If you want to serve the quiche hot, preheat the oven to 375°F. Slice the quiche into 8 pieces. Put them on a baking sheet and into the oven until they are hot, about 15 minutes.
Recipe and photo reprinted from Gluten-Free Girl Every Day by Shauna James Ahern. Copyright © 2013 by Shauna James Ahern and Daniel Ahern. Reprinted by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.