Chard and smoked salmon quiche

I was writing about sloes, and then, this weekend, I made this quiche, sort of at the last minute. It is so good that I wanted to commit it to memory.

Quiches have come and gone in my kitchen over time, but they have always occupied a space of special affection because it was what I made the very first time I invited friends over for dinner. I must have been 15 or 16 and I can guess who was invited, though I don’t remember for certain, but I do know that I made one leek and one salmon quiche, both recipes transmitted from the mother of a friend.

This weekend, we had neighbours over for brunch. I say ‘neighbours’ because they were not yet friends, in fact I had never met them. Thomas parks his motorcycle next to his at the end of our road, and they have been chatting for years. We decided to finally meet for brunch, which is more casual than lunch, and better suited to her pregnancy than apéro. But what do you cook for people whom you don’t know? I usually have my friends in mind when deciding what to make, it’s where the inspiration sparks. The idea this time had to stem from elsewhere, it came barely a couple of hours before they arrived.

Just like that very first dinner so many years ago — when in doubt, make quiche.

Chard and smoked salmon quiche

1 pie pastry (or store bought)
4 shallots
1 large bunch of chard (rainbow or green)
Olive oil
200g smoked salmon
4 eggs
200g crème fraîche
Squeeze of lemon
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Gruyère or other hard cheese (optional)

Preheat the oven to 175C (350F) and generously butter a pie dish.

Peel and finely dice the shallots.

Prepare the chard: trim and discard the ends; slice off the stems, wash them, and cut into 1cm (1/3 inch) chunks; cut the leaves into 5cm (2-inch) strips, wash thoroughly in cold water, drain well or spin dry in a salad spinner.

Heat a large frying pan with a generous drizzle of olive oil. Add and shallots and chard stems and fry over medium to low heat, stirring regularly, until the shallots become translucid. Add the chard leaves, reduce the heat, if possible cover with a lid. Cook gently until the leaves are wilted, no longer.

Meanwhile:

Cut the smoked salmon into strips.

In a medium bowl, crack the eggs and beat well with a fork. Add the crème fraîche and beat some more. Add a generous squeeze of lemon, a pinch of salt, and generous grind of black pepper.

When the chard has wilted, transfer it from the pan to the egg/cream mixture.

Add a little olive oil to the pan, fry the salmon very briefly (one or two minutes) over high heat, so it takes on a golden tinge but doesn’t really need to be cooked through. Transfer the salmon to the egg/chard mixture with another squeeze of lemon and mix well to combine everything.

Roll out the pastry and transfer it to the buttered pie dish. Poke holes into the pastry with a fork. Carefully pour the filling into the pie, and smooth over with a spatula. Sprinkle some grated cheese over the filling if desired.

Slide the quiche into the oven and bake for 40 to 45 minutes until it becomes puffy and golden brown.

Can be served warm or cold, with just a big green salad, or alongside other dishes for lunch, or brunch, or a picnic!

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