Asparagus tart

Asparagus tart

By
From
Mark Hix On Baking
Serves
4
Photographer
Jason Lowe

This makes a delicious snack or starter for a lunch or dinner party. It’s also good with a little extra hard cheese like Parmesan shaved over the top or with hollandaise — that perfect partner for asparagus — spooned over it.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
200g ready-made all-butter puff pastry
plain flour, for dusting
1 egg, beaten
500g medium asparagus, woody ends removed
30g mature cheddar, grated
60g butter
salt
freshly ground black pepper

Method

  1. Roll out the puff pastry on a lightly floured surface to a 3 mm thickness. Cut the pastry into 4 rectangles about 11 x 7 cm and prick them all over with a fork, then lay them on a baking tray. With the point of a knife, mark a line all the way round the rectangles about 3 mm from the edge. Brush the edges with beaten egg, and leave to rest in the fridge for 1 hour.
  2. Cut the top 10 cm of the asparagus spears from the tip, reserving the stalks. Bring two pans of salted water to the boil. Cook the spears for 3–4 minutes until tender, then drain and refresh in cold water to stop them discolouring.
  3. Cook the trimmings in the other pan for about 7–8 minutes until soft, then drain and whiz in a blender or food processor with the grated cheese and half of the butter to a coarse purée. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Preheat the oven to 200°C.
  5. Cut 4 rectangles out of cardboard just large enough to cover the centre of the tarts but not the marked edges. Wrap each in tin foil and place in the centre of the tarts. Bake the pastry cases for about 8–10 minutes, or until the edges are golden.
  6. Remove the foil rectangles and spread a tablespoon or so of the asparagus purée in the middle of each tart. Do not put in too much (save what you have left to use as a dip). Lay the asparagus spears as close together as possible on top of the purée. Season the asparagus with salt and pepper and bake for a further 5–6 minutes. Melt the remaining butter, brush over the asparagus and serve immediately.
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