For this quiche we use wild asparagus or, if we can get hold of, ovries. Ovries or Avronies (in greek) are the shoots of tamus communis, a plant that is native and grows in the wild in the Mediterranean. They are supposed to be slightly toxic before cooking and the French call them ‘herbe aux femmes battues’ – obviously they were used to treat bruises. Ovries look and taste a bit like wild asparagus, they are however more bitter – the bitterness goes away if cooked in boiling water. They are considered a delicacy, and, like asparagus, go very well with eggs.
Manouri is a greek semi-soft, fresh white cheese made from goat or sheep milk. If you can not get hold of manouri you can substitute it with ricotta. Manouri has a delicate taste (or according to my husband-the food interpreter, bland taste). For a more intense result substitute half of the manouri or ricotta quantity with crumbled feta.
For the pastry
- 230g all purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 100g cold unsalted butter, cubed
- 25g egg, lightly beaten (approx. 1/2 large egg)
- 40g cold tap water
For the filling
- 4 eggs
- 200ml whipping cream
- 200g strained greek yogurt
- 40g grated gruyère cheese
- 200g crumbled manouri cheese
- 1 Tbsp lemon zest
- 1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh mint leaves
- 15g grated parmesan cheese
- 200g rinsed wild asparagus, just the upper tender parts
For the pastry put the flour, salt and butter in a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and combine until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Change to the hook attachment and add the cold water and the egg. Continue mixing until dough comes together to form a ball. Shape the dough into a disc, wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Place the pastry between two sheets of baking parchment and roll out to a thickness of 2mm.
Butter a 24cm fluted tart tin, line with the pastry and gently push it into the base and edges, allowing the excess to hang over the sides. Prick all over the base of the tart with a fork and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 170°C.
Cut a large circle of baking parchment and scrunch it up a couple of times. Lay it over the pastry base, fill with beans or coins and bake for approximately 20 minutes before removing the beans or coins and parchment. Return the pastry case to the oven and bake for a further 5-10 minutes, until golden brown. Remove the tart tin from the oven, let cool a little and then, using a sharp knife, cut the excess pastry from around the top of the tart tin.
Meanwhile, bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil. Add the asparagus and blanch them for 2 minutes. Remove from water using a perforated spoon and let cool.
For the filling, combine the eggs with the cream and yogurt in a big bowl. Add the lemon zest, the chopped mint leaves, the gruyère cheese and 100g of the crumbled manouri cheese.
Fill the case with the cream mixture and arrange the asparagus on top. Sprinkle with the rest 100g of the manouri cheese and parmesan. Season with freshly ground black pepper and bake for about 25-30 minutes until golden brown.