It's coronation weekend and, whether it means much to you or not, it should definitely be an excuse to eat. On the menu is the infamous Coronation quiche, supplied by Buckingham Palace as a way to get the nation together around a plate of food. The success is debatable (and has been heatedly debated) but it definitely ticks many boxes; it's seasonal, vegetable centred (if not vegetarian), portable, approachable and can be eaten warm or at room temperature. The team and I, though, couldn't not have a serious play around with it. The principle is the same - it's a springtime quiche, perfect to make a day ahead for weekend parties - but za'atar has been sprinkled and extra cheese and herbs and spices added in. Bejewelling the whole thing with pomegranate seeds was also irresistible: they taste great and make the whole thing look rather like a crown. Make it a day before, if you like, just dressing the salad when ready to eat.
1.3 kg baking beans or rice
320g shortcrust pastry, shop-bought
3 eggs, whisked
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped (180g)
40g unsalted butter
4 tsp za’atar
250g baby spinach
120g frozen peas
200g creme fraiche
150ml double cream
70g gruyere, finely grated
2 tbsp olive oil
40g pomegranate seeds (from half a small pomegranate)
1 tsp black sesame seeds, toasted
1 tsp coriander seeds, toasted
20g pea shoots
30g soft herbs, picked (I used basil, parsley, mint and dill)
Fine sea salt and black pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 175C.
2. On a clean work surface, roll out the pastry to a circle roughly 3mm thick and at least 30cm in diameter (large enough to line the base and sides of a 24cm springform cake-tin). Lift the pastry and use your finger to press the pastry into the base and at least 6 cm up the sides of the tin, ensuring there are no holes or cracks in the pastry. Reserve any excess pastry to plug any holes in the pastry later on. Place in the freezer for 10 minutes, or until cold to the touch.
3. Line the tart shell with a piece of baking parchment large enough to cover the base and sides, and then fill the tin with baking beans. Place onto a flat tray then bake in the oven for 30 minutes. Carefully remove the parchment and baking beans. Use the reserved pastry to fill any holes or cracks that have appeared, then return to the oven for 10 minutes until golden. Use an oven cloth to carefully release the outer ring of the springform tin to reveal the pastry. Use a pastry brush to apply a thin layer of the beaten egg to the outer and inner edges and base of the tart shell, then return to the oven for a final 2 minutes. Set the tart shell aside for later, and return the baking tray to the oven.
4. Meanwhile, place the onions, butter, ¾ teaspoon of salt and 2 tablespoons of water into a medium saucepan and cook over a medium heat for 15 minutes, until soft and caramelised, stirring occasionally. Add the za’atar and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly, then add the spinach. Cook for 10 minutes until the spinach is wilted and any liquid has evaporated. Add the peas and cook for a further minute, just until defrosted, then transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl. Mix in the creme fraiche, cream, eggs and gruyere. Carefully place the tart shell back onto the baking tray, then spoon the quiche mixture into the tart shell. Don’t worry, the mixture won’t entirely fill the tart shell. Bake in the oven for 35 minutes until the quiche is set and cooked through. Leave to cool for at least 30 minutes.
5. To make the jewelled salsa, top and tail the lemon and using a small, sharp knife, cut around its curves to remove the skin and pith. Save this for another use. Over a bowl, cut between the membranes to release the segments and catch any juice collected, then roughly chop the segments. Repeat with the second lemon. Add the segments to the bowl along with the oil, pomegranate, sesame, coriander seeds, a pinch of salt and a good crack of black pepper and mix to combine.
6. Just before serving, toss together the pea shoots and herbs and pile this on top of the quiche, then drizzle the jewelled salsa over the salad.