Summer is here so it’s picnic time. In fact, today (18th June) is International Picnic Day. Which is probably why it’s pouring with rain……..;)
I do love picnics; there’s still something rather exciting about hunting out the picnic basket (or bag in our case), finding the ice blocks hidden in the bottom of the freezer and putting together different bits of food that you hope will still be in once piece when you get there!
As a child, my parents would get us up earlier, pack us and the food in the back of the car and drive over to Frinton beach, a gorgeous sandy beach on the Essex coast. Here we would have banana sandwiches and sand for breakfast (the sand was my addition as I always managed to drop mine!), paddle in the sea, build sandcastles and be back in the car heading home before most day-trippers even got there.
When I first went plant-based and found I had to avoid yeast (therefore no ‘normal’ sandwiches, the easy option!), picnics did at first glance seem rather challenging. But over time, I discovered lots of options like savoury scones, chickpea sandwich spread and of course hummus (what would a vegan picnic be without it???).
If you fancy something a little different for your picnic then these crustless mini quiches will hit the spot. Made with chickpea (gram/besan) flour, they are a fabulous egg-free alternative to ‘normal’ quiche. They are also soya free (if that’s an issue for you) and a slightly different flavour to my vegan quiche recipes. The other key difference is they have no pastry (hence the crustless bit 😉 ) so there’s no faffing about trying to make sure your pastry ticks all the boxes it needs to (gluten free, oil free, nut free…..?).
These crustless quiches also don’t take long to bake so you can make them on the morning of the picnic and even wrap them up for transporting when they’re a little warm. And of course you can add whatever fillings you want or have hanging around in the fridge, making these mini quiches perfect for using up leftovers or the bits you don’t know what to do with. No food waste is always a good thing!
Chickpea flour does magic things when mixed with water and heated – there’s definitely plant alchemy going on as it thickens and sets without you really noticing! If you plan ahead, it’s a good idea to mix the flour and water together and leave to rest for a couple of hours before baking, but if the clock is ticking, any resting time is good even if only 10 minutes whilst you cook the veggies.
Apart from tasting good, these crustless mini quiches also contain a cornucopia of amazing nutrients including lots of plant protein and anti-inflammatory compounds in the veggies but also the turmeric. This vibrant yellow spice (which comes from a root similar to ginger) has been extensively studied and it has been shown to help with many chronic health conditions and symptoms.
Antioxidant compounds help quash inflammatory free radicals and can help the body to heal. I certainly try to make sure I have some in food every day. It does need a little piperin (in black pepper) and fat (in the olive oil) to be properly absorbed though, which are both easy to include in recipes. Food as medicine in action!
The vegetables I’ve included in the recipe are just a guide – use whatever veggies you like or have available. Even preserved items like sun-dried tomatoes and olives work well in these mini quiches. If you are using veggies with a high water content like courgette, mushroom or spinach, do make sure that most of the fluid has been evaporated before adding into the mix as otherwise the quiche can become a bit too soggy!
I hope you enjoy these crustless mini quiches. Do let me know how you get on if you make them – even send me a photo of your picnic. When it stops raining of course!
Crustless mini quiches
- 12 hole non-stick muffin tin
- 250 g chickpea flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 450 ml water
- 1 red onion finely chopped
- ¼ head broccoli chopped
- 1 courgette chopped
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil omit if completely oil free
- pinch black pepper
- 1 tablespoon mixed herbs
- 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
- pinch kala namuk (Indian black salt) optional
- pinch chilli flakes optional
- Prepare the chickpea flour mix in advance – sift the flour into a bowl with the salt. Add the water and mix well to combine. Cover with a damp tea towel and leave to ‘brew’ for a couple of hours.
- Pre-heat the oven to 170ºC. Lightly grease the bottom and sides of a muffin tin.
- Heat a couple of tablespoons of water in the base of a medium-sized pan. Add the onion with a pinch of salt and sauté over a medium heat for 5 minutes or so until it starts to brown slightly – add extra water if need to stop it sticking to the pan.
- Add the chopped broccoli and courgette to the pan, cover and leave to sauté over a low heat for 5 minutes, stirring from time to time to make sure it doesn’t stick. Once the veggies are soft and slightly browned, turn off the heat.
- Whisk the olive oil, mixed herbs. ground turmeric into the chickpea mix and add black pepper as desired. Pop in the kala namuk now too if you're using.
- Tip the cooked veggies into the chickpea flour mix and stir well to combine. Carefully spoon the mix into each of the muffin tin holes, filling them to the top. Sprinkle a few chilli flakes on the top (if using).
- Carefully transfer the muffin tin to the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Once the mix is firm on the top and lightly browned, removed from the oven. Leave to cool in the tin for a couple of minutes, then use a knife to gently loosen the edges and lift out. Eat warm or cold.