There are a few things I will always find very fancy and sophisticated: white twinkle lights, beverages involving herbs, and puff pastry. So, I created this simple tart to showcase one of my favorite spring vegetables—and to make myself feel classy in quarantine.
Of course, you can make your own puff pastry, but the store-bought stuff delivers on the flaky texture in so, so (so) much less time. Frozen puff is easy to shape, so you can use it in a variety of ways.
Here, I created a lip so I could fill the tart with a salty, savory cheese mixture that serves as a bed for tender asparagus. A bit of lemon zest is a quick way to dress up the springtime vibes.
This tart involves only a few ingredients and feels right for any meal. It can be sliced into large pieces and served as an entrée or cut small to work as a canapé.
How to Pick Asparagus
Spring is peak asparagus season, but it’s increasingly available year-round in grocery stores. Whether you’re at the farmers’ market or the supermarket, you want to look for smooth stalks and firm, tight tips.
Shriveled, wrinkly stems and messy tops indicate age and dehydration. You also want to avoid limp, floppy stalks. Fresh asparagus will hold a nice, straight line.
If possible, look for stalks that are all the same thickness. This just means they’ll cook at the same time in your recipe. But if your bundle contains stalks of varying thickness, don’t be afraid to split thicker pieces lengthwise.
How to Prep Asparagus
Once you’re home with your fresh and firm asparagus, you will need to do a little work to remove any woody bits. If you have slender stalks, they may be good to go. Thinner pieces tend to be more tender through the trimmed end. But a little slice off the bottom will help clean up the stalks for your recipe.
If you have thicker stalks, you will likely have some tough, fibrous ends. While it’s true that asparagus will snap off at the woody spot, it will also snap anywhere along its length, and that can cost you a perfectly tender core.
Giving the lower end of your stalks a 1/2-inch to 1-inch trim to remove the toughest parts (or any dehydrated ends) and then a quick peel minimizes food waste and preserves the length of the stalk, which looks great in this tart. Depending on the thickness of the stalk, start peeling about two-thirds of the way down.
Tips and Tricks for Working with Puff Pastry
Frozen store-bought puff generally comes in two sheets that are folded into thirds.
- Let the sheets thaw at room temp for 20 to 30 minutes.
- Frozen sheets will stay stuck together or tear at the folds; you want them pliable enough to work with but not too soft.
- Maintain a bit of chill to the dough so you’ll get a nice rise when the puff meets the heat.
- Don’t overhandle the pastry! For the long shape of this tart, we are pressing together two sheets, but you want to overlap only enough for a good seal. If you flatten too much of the dough, you’ll sacrifice its puffiness.
Another tip for working with puff pastry: Egg wash—egg that’s beaten with a little water or milk—is your friend. You can trim, stack and seal pieces with egg wash to create all kinds of shapes. And you can brush it on the exposed edges before the dish goes into the oven for beautiful browning and shine.
Be careful when brushing it on: You want it to stay on the top of the dough. If too much egg wash runs over the sides, it can prevent rising, and you lose your flaky texture.
Swaps and Substitutions
This tart is endlessly customizable (read: pantry friendly!). Think of the filling as a formula: mild cheese + bold cheese + topping. Then you can work with the food you have and flavors you love. Be sure to use quick-cooking vegetables or put them on the tart after cooking them. Always use precooked meats.
Here are some suggestions to get the ball rolling:
- Goat cheese, Gruyère and sautéed mushroom
- Ricotta, fontina and sun-dried tomato
- Cream cheese, blue cheese and buffalo chicken
How to Serve Easy Asparagus Tart
Serve the tart for as a side dish at dinner with roast chicken—or keep up the spring theme with some lamb chops. Or make this the main at brunch: Add a light salad and some mimosas for a restaurant-worthy meal. The tart also makes a great appetizer. Slice it into thin wedges so it’s a bit more finger-food friendly.
If you don’t devour this in one sitting, store leftovers in an air-tight container in the fridge. The puff will soften a bit, but it will last up to three days. Eat any leftovers at room temperature or heat in a toaster oven for 4 to 5 minutes.
More Amazing Asparagus Recipes
Easy Asparagus Tart with Goat Cheese
2 sheets frozen puff pastry
2 eggs, at room temperature
8 ounces herbed goat cheese, at room temperature
1 ounce (about 3/4 cup grated) Pecorino Romano cheese
1 pound asparagus, trimmed and peeled as needed
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Zest of 1 lemon
Preheat the oven and thaw the pastry:
Place a cookie sheet on a rack in the center of the oven. Heat oven to 400˚F or according to puff pastry package instructions. Remove puff pastry from freezer and let stand at room temperature while you make the filling.
Make the filling:
Zest the lemon into a small bowl and set the zest aside. You will use it later. In a medium bowl, beat 1 egg with the goat cheese, Pecorino Romano cheese, and 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice.
Create the tart shell:
When the pastry is pliable enough to work with, generally after 20 to 30 minutes, unfold both sheets on a sheet of parchment paper. Overlap ends by 1 inch, forming 1 long rectangle (about 17 inches x 9 inches); press together to seal.
Beat the remaining egg with 1 teaspoon water, then brush a 1-inch rim of egg wash around the pastry rectangle.
Fold edges inward and press to create a 1-inch border. This acts as a “glue” and creates a picture frame effect. Use additional egg wash to seal corners where they overlap. Brush top of folded rim with egg wash.
Top the tart:
Spread the goat cheese mixture inside the pastry border. Toss the asparagus with the oil and salt, then arrange in a single layer on top of the cheese. If you want to get fancy, feel free to play with the arrangement of your asparagus.
Remove the hot cookie sheet from the oven and add the parchment with the tart; return the cookie sheet to the oven. Bake the tart until golden brown and flaky, 30 to 35 minutes.
Sprinkle the lemon zest over the asparagus and then cut the tart into triangles or squares. Serve immediately or let cool on a rack and serve at room temperature.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 15g||20%|
|Saturated Fat 7g||37%|
|Total Carbohydrate 8g||3%|
|Dietary Fiber 2g||6%|
|Total Sugars 1g|
|Vitamin C 7mg||36%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|