Asparagus season has been present for a few months now and I’ve seen the stacks of beautiful, green stalks in the shops and have even succumbed to their power. Of course, they are not local to Colorado because our growing season has barely begun, but they’re from the warmer climes of California and Mexico.
I am sometimes envious of the States that have farmers markets year around which provide a fairly decent bounty even in the midst of winter. Then I step outside and see The Rockies and I’m no longer envious 🙂 I’ll eat the occasional fruit or vegetable from California if it means I can look upon the mountains on my daily travels.
So, you can imagine my excitement when I received Isabelle Farm’s weekly email about what is available at the farm stand that weekend and found asparagus on the list! “Down the road from me” grown asparagus, you cannot get fresher or more local than that. I was eager to get there and get some before they ran out so I got up early on Saturday and raced down. I grabbed a few bunches of the beautiful stalks and a couple of bags of their over wintered spinach. Let me tell you how sweet this spinach is, it is pretty amazing, and it will be in a post very soon.
Back to this gorgeous, fresh, seasonal and extremely local asparagus; I didn’t want to mess with it too much but at the same time I didn’t want to do just Hollandaise (Sorry Francesca 🙂 )It had to be something that showcased the asparagus, simply but elegantly.
My mind wandered back to a tart in one of my old Gourmet cookbooks. I had always been quite taken by this tart because for one, I like tarts and this particular one is made with white asparagus and that had always intrigued me. My asparagus weren’t white but I loved how this tart was simple and flavourful from the addition of good Swiss cheese. They used Gruyere but I went with Emmentaler.
The Asparagus and Emmentaler Tart was quite amazing. The asparagus was so sweet and tender and the Emmentaler added just the right amount of cheesiness and flavour. The crust is great too since it is a cross between a regular pastry and a puff pastry; very flaky, tender and soft inside. It takes a little bit of work but it’s worth the result. Check out my post on puff pastry if you have a hard time visualising the instructions for the pastry.
Serving size: 6
- 2¼ cups/325g all propose/plain flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
- 2 sticks/225g cold, unsalted butter, cut in small cubes
- 3 tablespoons sour cream
- 3-4 tablespoons ice water, more if needed
- 1 cup/235ml heavy cream (double cream)
- 2 eggs
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg
- 1¼ cups/150g shredded Emmentaler cheese
- 1 pound/455g fresh asparagus
- In the bowl of a food processor, add the flour, salt, sugar and the black pepper, and pulse a few times to mix.
- Add the cold butter cubes and process until the butter is the size of peas and incorporated into the flour.
- Tip the flour butter mixture onto a clean counter.
- Add the sour cream to 3 tablespoons water and mix.
- Drizzle the liquid over the flour butter mixture.
- Using hands and a pastry scraper, mix the dough gently.
- Add more water if the dough is too dry and won't come together.
- It will be a little sticky but use the scraper and fold the dough onto itself,
- Keep repeating until the dough comes together.
- Using a rolling pin, roll the dough into a small rectangle and fold into letter trifold.
- Turn the dough and roll again into a rectangle and fold again.
- One more time and then wrap the dough and chill for at least an hour.
- When the dough has chilled, remove it from the fridge and roll it out.
- You can roll it in a circle or a rectangle like I did.
- Place the dough on a lightly floured counter to start and then on a piece of parchment to finish rolling.
- Roll out into a rectangle measuring 11" by 15" (28 cm x 38 cm)
- Fold an inch around the edges to make a rim about ½ inch high.
- Pierce with a fork all over the surface.
- Place on a baking sheet and chill for an hour or so.
- When ready to assemble tart, pre bake the tart shell.
- Preheat the oven to 375F/190C.
- Take out the chilled dough and line the top with foil or parchment and fill with beans or pie weights.
- Bake the dough for 20 minutes.
- After 20 minutes, remove the pie weights or beans and place the tart shell back in the oven.
- Bake for another 10 minutes to until the tart shell is lightly brown.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
- Prepare the asparagus by trimming the bottom hard stalks.
- Bring a pan of water to boil, salt the water.
- Add the asparagus and blanch for about 8 minutes until tender but not mushy.
- Have a bowl of ice water ready to cool down the asparagus.
- Once cool, dry off the stalks and prepare the filling.
- In a bowl, mix the heavy cream, the eggs, salt and nutmeg,
- Pour the filling into the cooled tart shell.
- Add ⅔ of the shredded cheese over the custard.
- Place the asparagus on top of the custard and sprinkle the remaining cheese.
- Place in a 375F/190C oven and bake for 30 minutes or until the custard is set.
- Turn on the broiler for 2-3 minutes to brown the top of the tart.
- Serve warm or room temperature.
Hope you all had a wonderful weekend. It was my husband’s birthday on Saturday and so we had a nice family celebration. I made him a cake which I will share in a couple of weeks; it is quite delicious, if I do say so myself 🙂
Wishing you a great week ahead!