My mom makes Mollie Katzon's cauliflower-cheese pie with grated potato crust a lot when we're all home because it's a favorite of everyone in our family, especially my sister. It's also an easy dish to play around with, as my housemate Jessie and I discovered. We had tons of leftover veggies that we wanted to use up, but we didn't want to just throw them into a random casserole--we wanted something really delicious. This pie fit the bill--lots of veggies, plus eggs and cheese to make a dish that's sort of like a quiche only heavier on the filling and lighter on the custard. The grated potato crust, though, is what makes this dish really shine--flavorful and slightly crunchy around the edges, we all agreed that we preferred it to a traditional pastry crust. Feel free to substitute whatever veggies you have around the house, or use all cauliflower for the original recipe.
Grated Potato Crust (from Mollie Katzen's Moosewood Cookbook)
2 cups grated raw potato, packed
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup grated onion or finely chopped shallots
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Set the potatoes in a colander and sprinkle the salt on top. Let sit ten minutes, then squeeze out the excess water and add to the remaining crust ingredients. Pat into an oiled 9-inch pie plate, patting the potatoes up the sides to create a crust.
3. Bake 30 minutes, then brush the crust with oil to help it crisp and return to the oven for a further 10-15 minutes.
Veggie-Cheese Pie (inspired by Mollie Katzen's Moosewood Cookbook)
3 T butter
1 cup chopped onion
1 medium clove garlic, minced
1/2 bell pepper, chopped
1 small head broccoli, cut into florets
2 large handfuls baby spinach
A few thin slices pancetta or another cured meat
1 - 1 1/2 heaping cups shredded cheese (we used a "Mexican blend"; cheddar would also be great)
1/4 cup milk
A dash of dried thyme
Salt and pepper, to taste
1. Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Add the onions and saute for a minute or two. Add the garlic and bell pepper, and saute until everything is nice and soft. Dump in the broccoli and mix well, then cover the saucepan and cook until the broccoli is barely tender, stirring occasionally. Add the spinach in two batches, cooking until wilted.
2. Cover the bottom of the potato crust with a thin layer of pancetta. Top with half the cheese, followed by the veggies. Roughly chop the basil and scatter over the veggies, then add the remaining cheese.
3. Make the custard: Whisk together the eggs, milk, thyme, salt, and pepper. Carefully pour over the pie. Because there's not much custard, take care to try and pour evenly so that all parts of the pie get some egg.
4. Bake the pie at 375 degrees until set, about 30-40 minutes. After taking it out of the oven, let the pie sit at room temperature for about 5 minutes before slicing and serving.