You know how the joke goes. Real men don’t eat quiche, but they sure do like a good egg pie. Well this, my friends, is an excellent egg pie. Ridiculously simple to make, luscious to eat, it is comfort food at its most decadently soothing. Smoky ham, nutty cheese, deeply verdant spinach, all held together with velvety eggs, and topped with a hint of richly intense pesto. A warm slice of this with a big glass of cold milk makes Paulo and me very happy.
I didn’t put much thought into creating this recipe. I simply threw together some of our most favorite ingredients, and voila, instant goodness. I was aided in part by an excellent purchased pesto. Most pestos that I’ve come across in stores appear to be suspiciously dark and preserved concoctions that I never would think to buy. But at a local big box store, of all places, I buy a pesto that is lovely. It is bright emerald green and smells wonderful. The ingredient list includes only the elements that should be in pesto, and not one thing other. And the taste of it, it is pure silky elegance. I eat it with a spoon when no one is looking. This is all a round-about way of saying, if you find an excellent prepared item, buy it and use it without one twinge of guilt, especially when it is less expensive than making it yourself. Go out now and buy some, and try this egg pie. Toss any leftover pesto with linguine and pine nuts, or swirl it into a bowl of vegetable soup, or spread it on a piece of toast rubbed with garlic, or make a second egg pie because the first one won’t last.
Pesto Egg Pie
1/2 cup cream or whole milk
6 oz. ham, diced
6 oz. frozen chopped spinach, thawed
1 1/2 tsp cold butter
1/2 cup pesto
4 oz. Swiss/Gruyere/Jarlsberg cheese, shredded
Preheat the oven to 375oF. Whisk the eggs with the cream until well blended. Add 1/2 tsp salt and several turns of freshly ground black pepper. Stir in the ham. Squeeze any excess liquid from the spinach and add the greenery to the egg concoction, mixing well. With your fingers, smear the cold butter all over the inside of a quiche or deep-dish pie pan. (Do not skip this step. The butter gives the pie a beautifully caramelized underside.) Pour in the egg mixture and bake just until the center of the pie puffs up and is done, approximately 30 minutes. (This time is only an estimate. Baking length will depend on how cold the mixture is when placed into the oven, so after about 25 minutes, check every 5 minutes until ready.)
When the pie is done, remove it from the oven and turn off the heat. Immediately spread the pesto over the top of the pie to within a half-inch of the edges. Sprinkle the shredded cheese over top. Put back in the oven until the cheese melts. (This will take only a few minutes.) Serve immediately or at room temperature. The pie keeps well, and tastes just as good, warmed, the next day.