I’m in desperate need of a picnic, and soon. Why? This, ladies and gents is the food to take with you on car trips, hikes, lazy days at the beach or any ‘transportable-food-required outing’. Or just to eat straight out of the pan before it even has a chance to cool. Are you familiar with that habit? You cut a teensy sliver to taste check (chef’s obligation of course), that then turns into a little bit more and a little bit more until half the thing has disappeared. Self control? Pfft. Moving on to more important (and less embarrassing) matters. Have you ever painstakingly packed a slice of quiche/fritatta only to discover a squishy mess when you arrive at your destination? It’s crushing (no pun intended). Well it’s time to put those trepidations behind you – this oat crusted spinach and feta flan won’t do that. I promise.
It’s so thin – both in crust and filling – making it a dream to transport. You’ve no chance of the eggy custard getting squashed as there ain’t that much of it to be smushed. Okay I do need to admit that the crust is quite soft and almost crumbly in texture, but it firms up well enough when cold. And you wouldn’t want it any other way. The result is real melt in your mouth stuff with the topping effortlessly melding into the crust. I doubt quiche would be the first word to pop into your head when you see it. Imagine a quiche and a pizza – both great picnic foods. Now try to envisage them wrapped into one slice. I told you I was onto something good. Not to mention that you can easily make it gluten-free.
So how did I happen across this gem? Let’s go back in time to Tuesday afternoon and I had just given blood. A dinner high in iron and B12 was in order. Spinach and eggs seemed appropriate. I was also ravenous enough to eat a horse, despite being vegetarian and all, and a simple spinach omelet wasn’t going to cut it. It was quiche time. In hindsight, my insanely high levels of hunger may have been part of the reason why the flan tasted so good. At that moment a pair of old boots would have tasted like a michelin star dish, but I digress.
Please don’t be put off the recipe by imagining that you’re going to have to toil over the pastry. I managed this just fine despite feeling a bit woozy in the head and walking around the kitchen like a tipsy sailor. Did you know that the complementary snacks they give you after donating blood are there for a very good reason? It had been over a year since I had been to the blood bank and I stupidly thought the muffins/milkshakes/cheese and biscuits were just a treat. I know, I’m such a dill – they actually help moderate your falling blood sugar levels. Duh. And there I was, thinking its just a clever way of bribing you to give blood (that may or may not have been the reason why I decided to start giving blood at 16). Honestly, my common sense is questionable at times.
Right, where was I? Ah yes, the crust. It may seem that there is no way near enough to coat the bottom of the flan tin. Don’t fret, just continue to push it out nice and thin, and it will get there. If you’re after a thick crusted quiche then this isn’t the dish for you. The fragility of the crust is typical of many gluten free baked goods and I highly recommend using a flan tin with a removable base. If you don’t have one then use a cake tin with a removable base. Either will make your life a lot easier when trying to remove it in one piece. And resign yourself to the fact that no matter what you do, some of the crust will remain on the pan. The longer it’s left to cool, the better chance you have of it coming out cleanly. I’ve never had much patience so if you’re like me in that respect and just Can’t. Wait. Another. Second. then ten minutes will be sufficient to prevent it turning into a crumbly mess when you try to remove a slice.
Pizza-quiche. Soft, salty, scrumptious…need I say more?
Oat Crusted Spinach and Feta Flan
Serves 6 – 8
½ cup oat – gluten free if you wish – flour (or blitz 65g rolled oats in a food processor)
1/3 cup almond meal (or blitz 45g almonds in a food processor)
2 tbsp cornflour
Scant ½ tsp sea salt
3 tbsp coconut oil or unsalted butter
2 tsp olive oil
2 French shallots, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
150g baby spinach
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp dried oregano
½ tsp ground nutmeg
¼ tsp paprika
150g feta cheese, crumbled
10g parmesan cheese, finely grated
Preheat oven to 200C. Lightly grease a 24cm flan tin with a removable base.
Combine the oat flour, almond meal, cornflour and salt in a bowl. Rub in the coconut oil with your fingers and work the ingredients into a soft dough. It will be quite moist. Don’t worry. Wrap the ball of dough in cling film and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Once chilled, press the dough into the base of the flan tin. Initially it will appear that there isn’t enough dough, but keep pressing it down and outwards so that it forms a very thin layer, patching up any holes as necessary. Blind bake for 10 minutes (don’t cover with greaseproof paper and fill with beans or baking weights as the pastry will stick to the paper). Reduce the oven to 180C.
Whilst the crust is baking, heat the olive oil in a large frying over a medium heat. Saute the shallots for three minutes, or until soft and translucent. Reduce the heat, add the crushed garlic and cook for a further minute, stirring constantly. Add half of the spinach leaves cook, stirring, until it wilts. Now add the second half of the spinach and cook until wilted. Remove from the heat and leave to cool slightly for five minutes.
Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, whisk the oregano, nutmeg and paprika with the eggs. Add the crumbled feta and stir gently.
Stir the cooked spinach & shallots through the egg mixture. Pour over the crust and smooth the top with a spatula. Sprinkle with the grated parmesan and give a good grind of black pepper over the top.
Bake for approximately 25 minutes, or until set and the top is golden brown.
Place the flan tin on a wire rack and leave to cool for 10 -15 minutes before carefully lifting the base out of the flan tin and cutting.
Source: Inspired by Green Kitchen Stories.