IN JORDAN and Israel, I learned about Labneh — literally, the “white stuff” — the sort of fresh cheese that everyone eats there, named, apparently, after the white-capped mountains. Easy to make from Greek yogurt, it is far cheaper than ricotta. Simply line a sieve with a piece of kitchen paper and pour in a pot of 0%-fat Greek yogurt, and leave to drain in the fridge for 12 or 24 hours.
I’m indebted to Sophie Grigson for her excellent recipe in Eat Your Greens (Network Books) for helping out when I didn’t have enough butter to make pastry. Her Very easy low-fat pea or mushroom quiche has a crust that is actually a bread dough: it is very easy to make, and comparatively low-fat.
Grigson uses white flour, peas, and ricotta. I prefer a more flavoursome crust, using 50-per-cent wholemeal flour and some chopped herbs. These quantities are about right for filling a 22cm (9-in.) quiche tin, and serves about 6 people.
For the crust:
200g (7 oz) bread flour
½ teaspoon instant yeast
3 tablespoons olive oil
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon dried mixed herbs
For the filling:
350g (12 oz) peas, steamed, or
225g (8 oz) mushrooms, sliced and fried in a little butter
150ml (5 fl. oz) milk
225g (8 oz) labneh or ricotta
110g (4 oz) cheddar, grated
50g (2 oz) Pecorino or Parmesan, grated
1 or 2 spring onions, sliced
1 tablespoon of sweet herbs (mint, chives, and parsley for peas; thyme, chives, and parsley for mushrooms)
salt and freshly ground black
Make the crust either by putting all the ingredients into a food processor (or in a bowl and mixing by hand), with enough water (about half a cup) to make a smooth, elastic dough. Leave it in a covered bowl in a warm place to rise until it has doubled in size. About an hour before you want the quiche, light the oven to 190°C/375°F/Gas 5, and place a baking sheet big enough to accommodate your quiche tin on a shelf to pre-heat. Prepare the quiche tin by pouring in a little oil, and use a little dough or some butter paper to grease it very well. Push the dough and spread it to cover the tin, making it come up the sides as evenly as possible.
Cook the peas or the mushrooms, chop the herbs and spring onions, blend the eggs and labneh or ricotta till smooth, and season the custard mixture. Put the vegetables in the prepared crust first, and then pour in the custard mixture. Place it carefully on the pre-heated baking sheet and bake for about 30 minutes or until it has set.