I saw them at the market the other day and I couldn’t resist but coming closer. I was drawn to them.
They looked slim, tall and incredibly green with a touch of purple and I decided to take some home with me.
As soon as I got back, I put them in the fridge; I needed them to stay crisp and cool.
The green long spears were standing proud in all their freshness and I dreamed of their nutty flavors and earthy accents.
They screamed for something rich and buttery; something zesty too.
I thought that if I paired them with parmesan and lemon they’d make the best salad; drizzled with a little olive oil they wouldn’t need anything more.
But then I remembered the puff pastry I had in my freezer that was begging to be used.
So I trimmed them, just a tad, enough to remove their slightly tougher outer layer near the bottom and I blanched them, just so that they became tender. I laid them on the smooth surface of the puff. They felt safe there. I covered them with cream and a little cheese. They liked it.
I put them in the oven and after a while the heat started to caramelize and char them. The cheese melted on top of them, turning them into the most delicious treat I could ask for.
The puffed pastry turned golden brown all around and while the tarts were still hot and crisp, I served them with a good sprinkling of finely chopped fresh parsley and grated lemon zest.
They were, needless to say, eaten voraciously.
Green Asparagus Tarts with Puff Pastry
Slightly adapted from The Kitchen Diaries II
It’s best to use long and lean spears for this rather than chubby ones. They’ll fit perfectly inside the long, slim strips of puff pastry and they’ll also be less stringy.
Once again, I used homemade French puff pastry but you can certainly use store-bought. Just make sure to thaw it properly. Remove it from the freezer and place it in the fridge 24 hours before using it.
Yield: 4 long, thin tarts
350 g homemade puff pastry or 1 sheet of ready-made puff pastry
12 thin, long, fresh green asparagus spears, trimmed
100 ml cream, full-fat (35%)
50 g grated Parmesan
Freshly ground black pepper
1 small egg, lightly beaten, for glazing
Handful of fresh parsley leaves, chopped
Zest of 1 small lemon, finely grated
Special equipment: rasp grater, colander, pastry brush, baking sheet, baking paper
You can read in this post how to clean, peel and trim the asparagus.
Fill a large pot with water and bring it to the boil. Add the asparagus and boil them with the lid off for 5-7 minutes depending on their thickness or until they are tender. Be careful not to overcook them because they’ll start to fall apart. Remember, they will cook again in the oven. You can tell if they’re done by inserting the point of a knife into the thickest part of the spear. If it slides in with ease, they’re ready.
Drain them in a colander.
Line your baking sheet with baking paper.
If you’re using homemade puff pastry, dust a clean work surface and the top of the dough with a little flour and using a rolling pin, roll it out into an approximately 40 x 26 cm elongated rectangle with a thickness of 0.2-0.3 cm. The thickness of the puff pastry is important because it determines the baking time.
Cut the puff pastry into 4 long rectangles (about 10 x 26 cm each) and transfer them on the prepared baking sheet. Lightly score with a knife a frame, about 1.5 cm from the edge of the dough. Cover with plastic wrap and place the baking sheet in the refrigerator.
Preheat your oven to 200 degrees Celsius / 390 Fahrenheit.
In a small saucepan, add the cream, parmesan and a little black pepper and warm over medium heat. Do not bring to the boil, you want the mixture to be warm not hot.
Take the puff pastry out of the fridge and pour with a spoon half of the cream mixture inside the frame of each long rectangle. Lay 3 asparagus spears on top of each rectangle and spoon over the rest of the cream mixture. Take care not to overflow the tarts.
Brush the frame of the dough with the beaten egg and place the baking sheet on the middle rack of the preheated oven. Bake the tarts for 16-17 minutes until the pastry has puffed and has taken on a golden color and the cheese has melted and turned golden in patches.
Remove the tarts from the oven and sprinkle with some parsley and grated lemon zest.