Dinner

By Lindsay Hunt | April 18, 2011

Photo: Lindsay Hunt

For the first time, last year, I bought a bunch of asparagus at the farmers’ market. Until that point, I had only bought asparagus from a grocery store, and it very well could have been December. I stashed the bundle in my shopping bag and walked home, unsure of how I’d prepare the vegetable.

At that time, I was just beginning to learn the wonders of roasting. I loved how with little work, a hot oven and proper seasoning rendered vegetables crispy, caramelized, and delicious. So that is how I cooked the asparagus, unceremoniously, one tray in a batch of four.

Photo: Lindsay Hunt

First, I tossed the asparagus with olive oil, and seasoned them generously with salt and pepper. Then I roasted the spears in the oven until they had a slight crunch.

I pulled the pan out of the oven and rested it on the stove burner and returned to cooking and roasting other vegetables. To satiate my pre-meal hunger, I grabbed one spear from the tray and folded it accordion-style into my mouth.

It was unprecedentedly delicious asparagus. The tip had crunch, and the slender stem was tender and juicy. I then proceeded to eat the entire tray.

After that week I bought at least one bunch until the asparagus disappeared from the market. I eventually branched out beyond simple roasting, and concocted a tart to showcase the spring vegetable.

Splurge on the best puff pastry you can find, it needs to live up to the asparagus. This would make a great appetizer at your Easter brunch next weekend. I know I’m going to introduce it to my family!

Spring Asparagus Tart Recipe

Servings: 6
Calories: 245 per serving
Prep Time: 2-3 hours
Cook Time: 30-35 min

Ingredients

  • 1 package frozen puff pastry (Preferably Dufour)
  • 1/2 bunch asparagus, about 15 pieces, sliced in half lengthwise
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, to taste
  • 1 egg, beaten for egg wash
  • Salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 ounce aged Cheddar cheese

Directions

1. Two to 3 hours before baking, defrost the puff pastry in the refrigerator. Alternately, defrost at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours.
2. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
3. Dust a work surface with flour and lay the dough flat on the surface. Dust the top with flour and roll with a floured rolling pin to make a uniform shape. Trim 1-inch borders from the edge of the dough and set the strips aside.
4. Brush the edges of the dough with the egg wash and place the strips on top of the egg wash. Press down lightly to seal the dough together.
5. Transfer the dough to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
6. Place the halved asparagus spears in a medium bowl. Toss the asparagus with the 2 tablespoons olive oil and season with salt and freshly ground pepper.
7. Prick the dough lightly all over with a fork. Do not pierce the dough all the way through. Then, on the edges of the dough, press the tines of the fork down on the raised strips to make diagonal slashes.
8. Brush the raised strips of dough with egg wash.
9. Lay the asparagus spears lengthwise in the center portion of the dough. Season again with salt and freshly ground pepper.
10. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the dough is hard and well-cooked.
11. Remove from the oven and place on a wire cooling rack. Slice strips of the cheese with a vegetable peeler and place on the tart to let melt. Serve hot!

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