This versatile quiche is a favorite that is often served when I visit my family on Peaks Island. It’s a wonderful make-ahead dish that embraces the orange components of sweet potatoes, squash or even pumpkin. You may find this dish useful if you have après Thanksgiving company hanging around. It works for any meal and is a fabulous go-to for vegetarians. You can also throw a handful of chopped turkey or a half pound of cooked breakfast sausage into it, but it’s very hearty and filling as is. The addition of cranberries and/or figs is delicious, and sometimes I just drizzle a bit of fig balsamic vinegar over the top, which is also very nice.

A green salad or a broccoli slaw is a good match for this, but if you want to have really something special, make this beet salad. You can roast the beets however you want to; just get them tender and allow them to cool before combining them with the other ingredients. This can be served on its own, but I like it even better piled onto leafy greens. You might as well add as many veggies to the meal as you can, right?

Oh, by the way, because I was early for the Casco Bay Ferry on my last trip to the island — which never happens — I had time to grab a mocha at a nearby coffee house. As I waited in the queue, I spied with my little eye a pumpkin whoopie pie. Without a moment’s hesitation, I expanded my coffee order to include this delectable-looking morsel. Unfortunately, I was deceived, and the promising treat did not measure up to my expectations. As I sat on the ferry with crumbs clinging to my woolen scarf and a case of buyer’s remorse, I realized I could do better.

The recipe for pumpkin whoopie pies herein is my attempt to heighten your autumn pumpkin experience. That is, if you haven’t had enough of all-that-is-pumpkin already.

Autumn Quiche
4 tbsp. butter

1 tsp. olive oil

2 leeks, white part only, diced

2 cups sweet potato, butternut squash, or pumpkin, diced

1/2 cup dried or fresh figs, chopped and/or

1/2 cup fresh cranberries, chopped (optional)

2 tbsp. fresh rosemary

1 tbsp. fresh sage leaves, chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

4 eggs

1 cup milk or cream

8 oz. feta cheese

Prepared 1-crust pastry

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a pie pan with pastry.

Melt butter in a sauté pan with olive oil. Add leek and cook until slightly caramelized. Add orange component and cook until tender and slightly caramelized, about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add herbs and continue to cook another 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper.

Whisk together cream and eggs. Fold cheese into vegetables and spoon into pastry. Pour egg mixture over top. Bake for 45-60 minutes until middle of quiche is firm.   

Beet Salad
3 medium beets

1 tsp. salt

1/2 cup sliced almonds, plus more for garnish

1/2 cup Greek yogurt

1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

1 1/2 tbsp. olive oil

1/2 tsp. cumin seeds

1/2 tsp. turmeric

Fresh greens

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. On a piece of foil large enough to make a pouch, drizzle beets with a bit of olive oil and a tablespoon or two of water. Season with salt. Wrap tightly and place in baking pan. Roast for 40-50 minutes or until tender. Allow to cool then dice into 1/2 –inch pieces and place in a bowl with cilantro, almonds, salt and yogurt. Stir to combine.

Heat olive oil in a small sauté pan. Add cumin seeds. When the seeds start to dance around, remove the pan from the heat and add turmeric. Cool then stir seasoned oil into beet mixture. Chill.

When ready to serve, place beets on a bed of greens. Garnish with more cilantro and almonds. Yield: 4 servings

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies
2 1/2 cups flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. nutmeg

1/4 tsp. ground cloves

1/2 tsp. salt

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 cup canned pumpkin

1 egg

1 tsp. vanilla

1/4 cup candied ginger, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in a medium bowl. Beat sugar and butter in a separate large bowl with an electric mixer until well blended. Beat in pumpkin, egg and vanilla until smooth. Gradually stir in flour mixture and add candied ginger. Drop by rounded tablespoons onto baking sheets. Bake for 15-18 minutes. Cool completely on wire racks. Filling:

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 (8-oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened

1 tsp. vanilla

Pinch of salt

2-2 1/2 cup powdered sugar

1-3 tbsp. cream (if needed)

Beat butter and cream cheese together until fluffy. Beat in vanilla and salt. Add sugar and cream a bit at a time until you have the desired consistency. Spread on bottom of one cookie and top with another cookie. Yield: 18 whoopie pies

Karen Schneider can be reached at [email protected]