Thursday, November 14, 2013

Pass The Prosciutto - Parma Ham and Spinach Quiche, Gluten Free!

spinach quiche
   Lately because of what's been going on at home, I've been sifting through all sorts of old family documents. Old photos, silk banners written in Italian, honoring some long forgotten relative for one thing or another, elaborate family photos taken in Florentine studios in the 1890s. You see, even though most of what appears here on my site is Indian food I'm of Italian ancestry. I don't cook Italian food that much except for the big holidays and family gatherings when relatives come calling and demand it. Also, I happen to live in an area on the edge of a vineyard that physically resembles the part of Northern Italy where my family comes from, and every now and then I step out my back door get a look at the grape leaves turning and get my self in a new gnocchi state of mind.

So when the people at one of my favorite food magazines Honest Cooking offered me a chance to get up close and personal with some genuine old country Parma Ham (aka Prosciutto) I couldn't resist. This is my way of letting you know that this is a sponsored post. 

   Straight up, Parma ham is no stranger to me. It was always served on my Nonna's table for Easter, and Christmas, and so I always associate it with The Holidays. My family on my dad's side was in the food business both here and in Italy. My grandfather had 4 small markets in San Francisco, serving what they called back in those days "The Carriage Trade". High end items sold to some of the best families in the city. He and his staff would take orders from the chefs and butlers at the big houses on Nob Hill or Pacific Heights and the groceries would be delivered by horse drawn truck. Think a 19th century Zabars, or a primitive Fresh Direct.

   Of course he carried Parma ham, all natural, no nitrates, just pigs, water, salt and air. All Italian of course. Just the way it's always been, and when I say always been, I'm talking about Cato the Younger.

Cato, A Man Who Obviously Knew His Ham
Yeah, that Cato who was enjoying Parma ham back in the day and  gave it the 100 BC version of a Yelp shout-out by mentioning how it was made in his De Agri Coltura. If that isn't enough to convince you, Parma ham was the first meat product awarded PDO status by the EU. That means Protected Designation of Origin. So there you have it. This stuff is the Real McCoy of pork products.

   So in  thinking about what to do with my Parma ham, I couldn't get brunch off of my mind. I also couldn't stop thinking about all my friends who are celiacs and eating a gluten free diet. It's always great when entertaining during the holidays if one keeps it easy. Make ahead or make it fast is the name of the game. So I decided to whip up a quiche that could be served at a brunch, a light lunch at a Game Day party, or as a late night supper. This can be made up on the spot quickly, or made ahead and reheated. It's quiche you remember, that stuff that real men used to not eat? Except this quiche has a crust made with Parma ham, and it's gluten free.

Parma Ham Gluten Free Quiche

Here's What You Need:
15 slices of Parma ham
5 eggs
2 cups ricotta salata cheese
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
10 oz of spinach, fresh or defrosted frozen
1 medium onion
salt and pepper to taste
1 Tbs of olive oil
A pinch or 2 of nutmeg

Here's What To Do:
Lightly grease a pie plate, oven proof cast iron skillet or baking pan with oil.
Line the pan with thing slices of Parma ham.

parma ham crust

Crimp the edges slightly as you go forming a crust.
When finished, it should look something like this. Set the pan aside.

Parma ham crust
Turn the oven up to 350 degrees.
If you are using fresh spinach, plunge it into boiling water for 2 minutes.

After 2  minutes drain it and rinse it in cold water.
Press the excess water out of it and chop it finely. I gave mine a couple of pulses in the food processor.
If you're using frozen chopped spinach (easier yet) just defrost it and press out the excess water.
Set the spinach aside.
Chop the onion finely.
Heat 1 Tbs of olive oil in a pan.
When the oil is hot, toss in the chopped onion.

Saute it until it's translucent.
Add in the chopped spinach.

And the nutmeg.

When everything is heated through, set it aside.
Grate the cheese in a food processor.

Put the 5 room temperature eggs in a large bowl.

Whisk them together.

Fold in the gated cheese.

Mix it together, and add in the spinach, onion and nutmeg mixture.

Stir everything together, until it's well blended.

Add salt and pepper to taste.
Pour the mixture into the prepared Parma ham crust.

Pop the whole thing into the oven and bake for 30 minutes or until it's firm to the touch.
After it comes out, let it sit for about 10 minutes.

Slice it up and serve.

Parma ham quiche

This goes great with a nice green salad, and the Parma ham makes a great crisp crust for the quiche.

   It occurred to me that one doesn't need to just make this quiche with spinach and these particular cheeses. Use your imagination . Try some figs and Gorgonzola, or cambazola and apples. Whatever you can dream up, give it a whirl, but the one thing you should accept no substitutions for is the one and only original Parma ham. Take it from Cato, and me.

Follow Parma Ham on Twitter for a chance to win $50 worth of the world's most famous ham. Click on the banner below to participate. This post is a collaboration between the blogger and Parma Ham. 

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  1. This looks incredibly delicious. I am do sorry for all your grief and sadness. My heart is with you. Xo

  2. What a fantastic crust!! This is so going to be on my dining table!

  3. Oh, my, that looks fantastic, Kahy! I just recently tried my hand at mini pizzas with a hard salami "crust". But this sounds so much better! I will definitely try this recipe out!

  4. You know, when I first looked at that shot of your backyard I really did think it was Italy!

    Hope you're doing OK. It's been an eventful year for you...



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