Asparagus Tarts

asparagustart

What doesn’t taste good with puff pastry?

Recipes Published in
Bonnie Published by
  • 1 bunch fresh asparagus
  • 8-10 oz fresh goat cheese (chevre)
  • 1 package puff pastry sheets
  • 2 eggs
  • 1.5 tsp. chopped fresh chives
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
  • Spoonful or so of flour for rolling dough

Even if you’re not a fan of asparagus, you’re only 7 ingredients away from impressing {insert names here} with your French pastry skills. You can substitute other veggies (see Variations on a Theme), but since asparagus is one of the easiest vegetables to prepare, I love using it when cooking for others because it doesn’t require a ton of prep time. These are scrumptious for brunch or lunch with a light salad of mixed greens tossed in a little vinaigrette. Not manly enough? Just top them with a poached (or fried) egg or some grilled chicken for a heartier meal. They also make perfect party food because they can be served at room temperature. Not to mention that the green stream is a fun plus.

The How-To

Remove goat cheese (henceforth referred to by its fancy-pants French name, “chevre”) from fridge and puff pastry package from freezer, and allow to come to room temperature. Preheat oven to 400*. Dunk asparagus in cold water to remove any hidden grit that likes to stick to the stalks as they pop up out of the ground. Trim asparagus thusly: take one stalk and hold at each end. Bend stalk until it breaks. This breaking point is your ruler–line it up to the rest of the asparagus and trim off the ends of all other stalks to the same length. Discard ends.

Make an egg wash by whisking one egg with 1 tablespoon of water and set aside. Mix the other egg with your room temperature chevre, a pinch of kosher salt, and a few grinds of pepper. Set aside. Remove thawed-but-still-cold puff pastry sheets from the package. Dust a little flour onto counter surface to prevent pastry sheet from sticking. Lay one sheet of dough on counter, set the second one aside and cover it with a moist paper towel.

Cut pastry sheet into 6 equal rectangles. Place your 6 pastry pieces on parchment-lined baking sheet. With a sharp knife, score (cut almost all the way through dough) a concentric rectangle into each piece of pastry dough, leaving approximately 1/2″ to 1″ frame of dough around the edges. It’s totally fine if your edges aren’t perfect or your corners aren’t 90*. With a fork, prick holes within the rectangles you drew (this helps the dough cook evenly after we slather it with the chevre mixture).

Drop a tablespoonful or so of chevre mixture onto the center rectangle of each tart, and spread it out within that inner rectangle, keeping your 1/2″-1″ edge clean. Lay several asparagus pieces head to foot on top of the chevre mixture. You may have to cut them in half again to fit inside your rectangle, but again, they don’t have to be or precise. Brush the outer pastry edges of tarts with your egg wash with a pastry or basting brush (a finger works just as well). Bake for 16-20 minutes on the center rack of your oven or until the edges turn a caramel brown. Every oven is different, so watch your first batch toward the end of 15 minutes. Repeat with the second sheet of pastry dough, the rest of your chevre mixture and asparagus. Can be served warm or at room temperature. Makes 12 asparagus tarts.

Notes

I’ve given up all pretense that I can do this in only two notes. My apologies.

My asparagus from Hairston Creek Farm have been on the thin side–somewhere between a toothpick and a pencil, which don’t need to be pre-cooked before they hit the tart. However, the ones I’ve seen in the grocery store look like firewood, so just blanch them in boiling water for 30 seconds to a minute (larger=longer time) and immediately drop them into ice water to stop the cooking. Split them in half lengthwise and continue with the show as specified above.

Chives are not green onions/scallions. Chives are herbs with a much more delicate flavor and texture. If you can’t find fresh chives, just omit them. No dried stuff. It tastes like onion-y dryer lint.

When purchasing chevre, or any cheese for that matter, avoid the pre-crumbled stuff like the plague. They add cornstarch and preservatives to the cheese to keep it “crumbly,” and just makes it taste old and chalky. If you can’t find chevre, a plain boursin cheese or mascarpone is an acceptable substitution.

Variations on a Theme

Not an asparagus fan? This works well with thinly sliced red/yellow/orange bell peppers, sauted Texas sweet onions with a few pinches chopped fresh thyme instead of chives, or cherry tomato slices (minus seeds and juice).

Dessert version: use mascarpone cheese instead of chevre and 1 T grated orange or lemon zest instead of herbs. Sprinkle the edges with sugar after you apply the egg wash before baking. Bake as is, and top with seasonal fresh fruit. Drizzle with honey before serving.

Throwing a party or shower? Cut rectangles in half for 24 smaller, bite-size hors d’oeurves.

2 Responses to “Asparagus Tarts”

  • Candice:

    bon,

    i just recommended this website and recipe to a friend to bake for a vegetarian easter brunch. she said it was a hit! perfect use of an in-season vegetable, and the picky eaters will be thankful.

    best,
    candice

  • Laura:

    These were just right for our noon to two baby shower. Can you make the cheese mixture ahead of time? Like night before?
    Also, this is a great dish for those of us who usually aren’t asparagus eaters. They were delish and not a crumb left!