Frozen hash browns make an easy, crispy crust for a savoury pie

Ann Maloney

THE WASHINGTON POST – Sometimes when I’m thumbing through food magazines or scrolling through a favourite cooking site, I’ll come across a recipe I haven’t thought about in years.

That happened recently as I was on the prowl for pantry and freezer-friendly recipes – something I’ve been fixated on since the coronavirus pandemic forced us all into social distancing. My goal is to go to the grocery store no more than once a week – or even less frequently, if possible. Stopping in for fresh herbs and vegetables whenever I felt like it or dropping by for this or that because I have a craving are two habits I’ve suspended in recent weeks.

That’s where this hash brown, or potato-crust pie comes in.

I saw a recipe for a spinach and quiche with a hash brown crust on Eatingwell.com. I remembered how delicious I used to think these potato crusts were.

I made this savoury pie or quiche several times recently, once with green beans, and another time, as pictured here, with asparagus. I made it with leftover shrimp from another dish as well.

Hash Brown-Crust Veggie Pie. PHOTO: THE WASHINGTON POST

Three eggs, evaporated milk and a mix-and-match of dry seasonings, such as cayenne, nutmeg and maybe a little garlic powder, create a flavourful, custardy base. If you’ve got shallots or onions on hand, mince a half cup and add that as well.

This is a great dish for that one scallion you have left. Or, maybe that nub of Parmesan you’ve been meaning to grate or those few pieces of prosciutto you really should eat. Chop them up and toss them in the eggs.

And, a bonus to this little dish. It’s so pretty.

The potatoes make a brown, crispy ring around the glossy egg filling dotted with vegetables. Slice and serve it with a salad or a cup of soup for supper.

HASH BROWN-CRUST VEGGIE PIE

Active: 25 minutes | Total: 45 minutes

Four servings

This egg entree comes together quickly with ingredients most of us have on hand – if a couple of those things include shredded frozen hash browns and eggs. The rest, such as the cheese and dry seasonings, can be adjusted to suit your pantry or your taste. The pie can be eaten hot from the oven or at room temperature.

Ingredients

Three cups shredded frozen hash browns, thawed and squeezed dry

Four tablespoons (1/2 stick) salted butter, melted

Three large eggs, beaten

One cup evaporated milk

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg

Seven ounces (about 1 1/4 cups) fresh or frozen asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces, thawed if frozen

One cup (4 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese

1/2 cup minced yellow onion (about 1 small onion)

Steps

Place the baking rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 450 degrees.

Place the drained hash browns between two clean towels and press them to squeeze as much water from them as possible.

In a nine-inch pie plate, toss the hash browns with the melted butter. Press the potatoes into the bottom and up the sides to form a crust. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the potatoes start to brown and crisp around the edges.

While the crust is baking, in a large bowl, combine the eggs, milk, salt, cayenne pepper, garlic powder and nutmeg and whisk until combined. Add the asparagus, cheese and onion and stir to combine.

When the crust is ready, remove pie dish from oven and pour the egg mixture into the crust. Decrease the oven temperature to 350 degrees.

Return the pie pan to the oven. Place a rimmed baking sheet under the pie dish. Bake for about 30 minutes, until the eggs are set, with no jiggle when you shake the dish, and a knife stuck in the middle comes out clean.

Let the pie cool about five minutes until warm on a wire rack, then slice and serve.