Though it sports a decidedly unromantic title, this recipe is a sensuous feast for eye and palate alike: we love the colors and flavors that make up this unusual quiche! Despite the earthiness of the beetroot, there is a delicacy about this quiche in its overall impression, and a lightly dressed salad makes an ideal and worthy partner. As a bonus, any leftover paté is delicious atop toast for a light lunch or pre-dinner nibble on another day.
For the beetroot and walnut paté:
3 raw beetroots (about 8 oz.), cleaned, top and tail intact*
3.5 oz. walnut halves (1 cup)
7 oz. low-fat cream cheese (such as a Neufchâtel)
½ cup loosely packed fresh dill fronds
2 tbs. balsamic vinegar
¾ cup dried breadcrumbs
1 recipe shortcrust pastry dough
For the filling:
1.5 oz. arugula leaves
beetroot and walnut paté (see above)
8 large eggs
1½ cups heavy cream
Boil the whole beetroots for 1 hour, skin-on. When cool enough to handle, use your fingers to peel the skins off (wear rubber gloves if you like to stop the beetroot staining your fingers).
Toast the walnuts in a dry frying pan over medium-high heat, or in a 350°F oven for 5-8 minutes, until golden and fragrant. Roughly chop the cooked and cooled beetroot and place in the bowl of a food processor with the toasted walnuts, cream cheese, most of the dill, and the balsamic vinegar. Pulse, slowly adding the breadcrumbs, until the paté reaches the same consistency as hummus, holding its shape when scooped up with a spoon.
Heat the oven to 350°F. Roll the pastry dough on a lightly floured surface to a 12” diameter, and use it to line a 10” loose-bottomed, fluted tin. Cover with baking parchment that has been crumpled and smoothed a few times to soften, and fill with baking beans or pie weights. Blind-bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown. Remove from the oven and lift out the parchment and beans.
Spread the pastry case with a thick layer of the paté, then sprinkle with the arugula. Beat the eggs and cream in a bowl, season with salt and pepper, and gently pour over the arugula and beetroot filling. Dot evenly spaced teaspoonfuls of the paté on top and press down into the mixture slightly. Carefully transfer the quiche to the oven and cook for 45-50 minutes until the center is set. Allow to cool a little before removing from the tin to serve.
*You may substitute in 8 oz. cooked and packaged beets (not in vinegar) if you don’t want to cook your own.