Spring Asparagus Tart

Simple is best here!

This tart is quick enough for a casual weeknight supper, and showy enough for entertaining. Puff pastry from the freezer section makes this simple work, just remember to take it out the night before to thaw in the refrigerator.

I’ve tried many variations of the tart over the years, and am split over adding other vegetables. Most days, I prefer it best with the asparagus the sole star of the dish, but a little sprinkle of sautéed or grilled leeks, mild onions, or mushrooms are a nice enhancement. If you are lucky enough to find some local morel mushrooms, I’d definitely invite this spring treasure.

I had a taste testing one day: asparagus tart with leeks and mushrooms, asparagus tart with fresh chives and chive blossoms, and asparagus tart unadorned. The winner hands down for asparagus flavor was the plain tart. However, everyone loved the other versions in their own right and would make them as well! So I guess it is all about what you want on any given day.

You can substitute cream cheese or ricotta for the crème fraîche, and Gruyère for the cheddar. You can even substitute blanched fiddlehead ferns for the asparagus, and add any herb you like!

This is one recipe where I pick through to find spears of similar size simply because I want it to look pretty.

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.

Roast or grill:

*One small bunch of asparagus spears

These can be leftover from another use, or prepared just for the recipe.

Roll out to about 10” X 16”:

  • One sheet of thawed puff pastry

Place on a lightly greased cookie sheet, or line a cookie sheet with parchment.

Score the pastry about 1” from each edge, the full length of each side, with a sharp knife. You want to cut nearly, but not all the way through. With a fork, prick all around the center of the pastry. This docking will cut down on the puffing of the center, which you don’t want. The border will puff up and form a side to the tart, which you do want.

Place pastry in the preheated oven and bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and reduce the heat to 400 degrees. Using your fork again, prick around the center to get rid of any large puffs or bubbles that formed. Let this cool.

Once the pastry is cool, mix together:

  • 4 ounces crème fraîche
  • 1 large organic egg
  • A few grates of nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Spread this mixture on the bottom of the cooled tart, and arrange your asparagus on top, tightly packed together but in a single layer. Top with:

  • 2 ounces or so of grated Cheddar cheese

You can stop right here, or add

  • One leek, or small sweet onion, thinly sliced and sautéed

Bake at 425 for about six minutes, or just until the cheese melts, and tart filling puffs a little. If the sides start to brown too quickly, cover them with foil.

Let cool slightly and cut into desired size. You can cut this up really small for a party appetizer, or larger for a meal, served with a simple salad. You can also make this into individual tartlets. Serve warm, or room temperature.

 

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