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Party favorite, quiche gets lighter touch

Spinach and Mushroom Torte. The dish is party- and buffet-friendly.
Spinach and Mushroom Torte. The dish is party- and buffet-friendly.

Most cooks have a go-to party dish. For one Washington Post reader, it's a spinach quiche that's loved for its rich flavor, but not so much for its fat and calories.

I made the recipe, which is easy to put together. But I tasted cheese and green chilies more than spinach quiche. The version calls for 24 ounces of grated cheese, 1/2 cup of butter, 10 eggs and 2 cups of cottage cheese. The nutritional analysis of her recipe, based on 12 servings: 400 calories, 31 grams of fat and 840 milligrams of sodium.

Here, I use mushrooms instead of green pepper; pairing them with spinach is a classic way to go. Out: cheddar and Monterey Jack. In: feta and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheeses, which bring flavor without weighing the dish down. The butter and eggs are reduced.

The dish remains party- and buffet-friendly. With no crust, it's not really a quiche. So I'm calling it a torte.

You might be able to get away with omitting the flour, but it's good insurance against the possibility that the spinach will be watery.

I have never had a problem with this kind of food adhering to my ceramic baking dishes, but if you have a dish that has sticking problems, spray it lightly with cooking oil spray before filling.

MAKE AHEAD: This dish can easily be prepared a day in advance. Reheat uncovered in a 350-degree oven.

Spinach and Mushroom Torte

10 to 12 servings

1 tablespoon mild olive oil

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1/2 cup finely diced onion

12 ounces white mushrooms, cleaned, stemmed and thinly sliced

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

8 large eggs, beaten

1 1/2 cups low-fat milk (2 percent)

1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese

1/4 cup flour

Freshly grated nutmeg

One 16-ounce bag frozen spinach, defrosted

6 ounces crumbled feta cheese (1 1/2 cups)

1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Have a 9-by-13-inch baking dish at hand.

Heat the oil and butter in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the onion; cook for about 3 minutes, until it just starts to soften. Stir in the mushrooms, then season with salt and pepper to taste; cook, stirring and flipping the mushrooms every couple of minutes, for 8 to 10 minutes, until they begin to brown and the moisture they release has evaporated. Transfer to a large plate to cool for a few minutes.

Whisk together the eggs, milk and ricotta; while whisking, sprinkle in the flour. Season with the nutmeg and with salt and pepper to taste.

Squeeze as much moisture as possible out of the defrosted spinach, then stir the spinach into the ricotta mixture, breaking up any clumps so the spinach is distributed evenly. Add the cooked mushrooms along with the feta and Parmesan cheeses, stirring until well incorporated.

Pour the mixture into the baking dish. Place on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 35 to 45 minutes, until the torte is firm and just starting to brown around the edges. If it puffs up, don't worry; it will deflate as it cools.

Cool for at least 15 minutes before serving. Serve warm or at room temperature.

NUTRITION Per serving (based on 12): 200 calories, 14 g protein, 9 g carbohydrates, 12 g fat, 6 g saturated fat, 170 mg cholesterol, 360 mg sodium, 2 g dietary fiber, 2 g sugar

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