Studded with fragrant fresh thyme and sauteed leeks, this gluten-free brie and pear quiche is a stunning centrepiece for your next summer gathering. With their (short) growing season just around the corner, I’m happy to share our new favourite recipe for California Bartlett Pears. This post is sponsored by California Pears, and I was compensated monetarily for my work. You can always count on me to only work with companies and products I love!
In my parents’ house there was always a bowl of fruit on the table. Nectarines, mandarins, apples and bananas would take their turns as seasons changed, occasionally making room for a more “exotic” fruit like strawberries or persimmons. But the one constant in that fruit bowl in recent years has become the pear.
Some of you may recall my dad’s love for apples. For years, apples were a constant presence in our lives, their discarded cores serving like a road map to my father’s traverses around the house. If there was an apple core by the computer, that means he worked on his presentations or checked email. If the apple core was left on the porch, it means he sat here in silence with a cup of tea. If the core was in the living room, the television might still be warm to the touch. And if the cores were on the kitchen island, that meant he was waiting for my mother to come home for dinner.
Until one day, my father developed an energy for apples. And the apple cores got replaced by pears.
The cheese platters in our house started incorporating pears. The strudel became a pear strudel. And the one constant in our fruit bowl, the pillar around which all else turns and changes, became the pear.
So when I discovered that the man with whom I have come to share my life also has an inordinate love for pears, I knew I would have to become resourceful.
While finding fresh pears year-round is easy to do in Israel, the land of constant fruit, it is much harder in Canada. Ontario pears appear in August, and stay until October. BC pears are with us until January. Quebec pears, which are hard to find in stores and are mainly available at farmers’ markets, boast a longer growing season (July to April) - but I have never seen them before the late summer.
Hence, my new obsession: California Pears. Bartlett Pears from California are available several weeks before the Canadian ones, enjoyable for just a short time in the mid-summer (late July to mid August). There are several reasons why I choose California Pears. One, I can tell from where they’re coming: California Pears are grown on just 60 small family farms, which are considered leaders in natural growing methods. Two, they are seasonal - these pears are only available for several weeks in July and August. And finally, because they’re growing season is earlier than the Canadian one, California Pears don’t compete with those grown here in Canada.
When trying to come up with a special dish to inaugurate our new home, my mind immediately drifted to using California Bartlett Pears. And as the only (vegetarian) thing my man likes more than fruit is cheese, I knew I had to combine the two. And that’s how this stunning brie and pear quiche came to be.
California Pears of course contain antioxidants and are a good source of fibre, Vitamin C, potassium and folic acid (which can be particularly important if you’re working on growing a little life, or if you just want to strengthen your own). Thyme is like nature’s cure-all: it is thought to have antifungal, antibacterial and insecticidal, and at one time was even considered a cure for the Black Death. And brie cheese? Well, that’s just delicious. I made the crust gluten-free and crumbly, the perfect consistency for a savoury quiche crust (or pie, if you add more sugar). The sauteed leeks came as a savoury flavour booster, the ultimate balance to the sweetness of the pear and the creaminess of the cheese.
The end result was gorgeous - people actually ‘wow’ed when it was served to the table. But the real key here was the flavour - rich, sweet, and creamy all at the same time.
In the next two weeks, make your way to the grocery store and pick up some California Pears. Make this quiche, and serve it on a warm day with a glass of crisp white wine (I recommend the same pinot grigio I used before). The instagram photos alone will be worth it.
You can find more recipe ideas for California Pears right here.
Brie and pear quiche (GF, Veg)
Crust (for one 9-inch quiche pan plus 3 mini individual quiches, OR one 11-inch quiche pan):
- 300 g 2 cups + 2 tablespoons all purpose gluten-free flour
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 200 grams of cold butter cubed
- 2 sprigs of thyme leaves torn off and sprigs discarded
- 1 egg beaten
- 1 leek white parts only, chopped
- 4 California Bartlett pears cut in half and then sliced thinly
- 450 g brie cheese sliced into ½-inch thick slices (you want the cheese to be noticeable)
- ½ cup yogurt
- 3 eggs
- 7 few sprigs of fresh thyme 4 with leaves torn off and sprigs discarded, and 3 whole
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Prepare the dough: Process GF flour, salt, butter cubes and thyme in a food processor using short bursts (pulses) until a crumbly mixture is obtained. Add a beaten egg and process in pulses until you get a ball of dough. If the dough is dry and crumbly, add a tablespoon of cold water; if it is sticky, add another tablespoon of GF flour and process for a few more seconds.
- Take dough out of food processor and shape into a pita. Wrap in plastic wrap and transfer to refrigerator for 1 hour.
- While dough is cooling, prepare filling: heat two tablespoons of oil in a medium-sized pan. Add chopped leeks and sautee on low-medium heat until they are translucent. Set aside to cool.
- Once dough has cooled, cut a large piece of parchment paper. Roll out the dough on a large piece of parchment paper to a circle about ½-inch (1-cm) thick; cut a 12-inch round shape for a 9-inch pan, and use the rest for an individual quiche in a ramekin, or a 14-inch round for an 11-inch pan. Transfer the dough to the pan and press it to the bottom and sides. Prick dough with a fork and freeze for another half an hour.
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.
- In a bowl combine yogurt, eggs, leeks, thyme leaves, salt and pepper.
- After half an hour, remove quiche form from freezer. Arrange pear slices in spiraling circles. Cover with brie cheese slices. Pour quiche mixture. Top with remaining whole thyme sprigs.
- Bake for 35-45 minutes, until the dough is completely golden and the top of the quiche has browned around the edges.