An asparagus tart, just my own, inspired by a kajillion recipes that weren’t quite right. This one is, as I say, “just right and uniquely mine.” I like things like that ;)
A just-right layer of cream and cream cheese-based filling flavored with dijon and fresh herbs, go-to frozen puff pastry crust, and fresh roasted asparagus topped with a light sprinkle of Murray River pink salt and a bit more fresh herbs. Pink salt for us girls!
I made this for Mother’s Day, which we were all supposed to celebrate at Sam’s house. The celebration happened; I just didn’t get to be part of the “we” due to an upset stomach. Boo! (Feeling better now.)
That’s still better than the Mother’s Day when I spent 4 hours in the ER with Becca, an impatient 2-year old who had run herself into the corner of a wall and had a blue-striped egg-sized lump in the middle of her forehead. She was being chased, just so you know. She didn’t normally go barreling face-first into walls at random. When you are two, running in glee, and looking over your shoulder at your pursuer, your automatic guidance system can fail you and suddenly corners of walls are looming far too near to slow down for when you face forward again. It has made a nice “top this” story ;)
I also learned one of the rules of childhood injury: forehead bumps aren’t usually something to worry about. Foreheads are kind of engineered to take bumps.
The tart! I have a small rectangular tart pan, just 4″ x 14″ so I messed around with the puff pastry sheet. It was NOT proportioned for my pan when I unfolded it when it was mostly thawed. When I got done with it, my rolling pin and I had fixed that! Alternately scooching the sides in, rolling it only lengthwise, and letting it rest, I managed to make it long enough with only a bit left to trim off of the sides. Win!
I used cream cheese as the base for the filling, but I would use goat cheese usually. My mom does not really like goat cheese (how CAN I be related to her??? LOL) and since this WAS Mother’s Day I catered to that preference.
The recipe below has two minor adjustments I wanted to make after the final tasting. One of the problems with mixing up a tiny batch of filling is the also-tiny measurements that can make a big difference. I found the mustard just a bit stronger than I liked, and also the taste of egg yolk, but as I said, I’ve already adjusted that in the recipe below!
If you use eggs smaller than Extra-Large (eggs almost 5 Tbsp. in volume) then your egg yolks might be the right size — eggs from your own chickens or Medium or Large eggs would be perfect. Otherwise, break the yolk and ditch some of it. Or not; your choice. Or make up a double batch and just use one yolk total. If, you know, you have a larger tart pan!
- 1 sheet puff pastry
- 18 medium-thickness asparagus spears
- olive oil and pepper for the asparagus
- fancy salt for garnish (optional)
- 2 oz cream cheese or goat cheese
- 1/4 c. cream
- 1/8 tsp. salt
- scant 1/2 tsp. dijon mustard
- 1 small clove garlic, minced
- 1/2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme and rosemary, divided (more if desired)
- 1 egg yolk, less than 2 Tbsp.
- Preheat oven to 400F. Use a 4" x 14" removable bottom tart pan.
- Filling: Beat or mash cream cheese until smooth. Gradually blend in cream. Add most of the herbs, reserving some for garnish. Add all remaining filling ingredients and combine until smooth.
- Asparagus: Cut asparagus to 1/2" less than half the length of your pan, about 6 1/2" for a 4" x 14" tart pan. Toss with a bit of olive oil to coat lightly; dust with fresh ground pepper. Roast in 400F oven for 5-7 minutes until sizzling but barely cooked. Remove from pan and set aside.
- Roll puff pastry into pan-shaped sheet by coaxing it into a narrower width then rolling it lengthwise. Let it rest for 5-10 minutes; repeat until long enough. Place pastry into removable bottom tart pan; trim edges by rolling the pin across the top edge.
- Spread cream filling into bottom. Arrange asparagus as shown: Always leave about 1/2" between the pastry and the asparagus at the narrow ends of the pan. Place one spear in upper right corner along the long top edge. Trim the head off of another spear, place the stalk portion at the *lower* right corner, the head at the lower left corner, and a third spear between them (all of these are along the long lower edge.) Arrange 7 stalks across the tart with the heads along the diagonal line between stalk #1 and stalk #3. Trim remaining stalks to fill in the 9 rows, remembering to keep asparagus about 1/2" away from the narrow ends of the pan. Or, arrange asparagus however you like!
- Bake at 400F for 25 minutes until pastry is golden and puffed; remove before asparagus heads scorch.
- Top with a sprinkling of fancy/flake salt and the remainder of the fresh herbs.
- Cut crosswise into 1" - 3" strips to serve as appetizer (6-8 servings) or side dish (4 servings).
- Can be made ahead; refrigerate and reheat slightly to serve.
I hope all the moms out there had a nice day on Sunday. Also, don’t let everybody treat you like your not special the other 364 days of the year! You are! Make sure they realize it!