Monday’s post was all about ramps, but I also got three big bunches of asparagus at the market. I thought that the best way to showcase them would be in a pretty tart. These asparagus were not too thick, so they did not require peeling of the stems. If you get really thick asparagus, that’s something you might want to do.
Another ingredient that I just love is ricotta cheese. Mine has to be whole milk. I recently discovered Bellwether Farms Basket Ricotta from Sonoma. It is the most delicious ricotta I have tasted. I highly recommend it. Other great brands are Calabro–which is available at most grocery stores, and Blue Ridge Dairy which is available at several farmers markets in the DC area. Whole milk ricotta is such a versatile ingredient. It can be used to top crostini, in ricotta pancakes, to dollop over pasta, and in this ricotta-asparagus tart.
The tart takes no more than 10 minutes to put together. You could make a green side salad while the tart is baking. I hope to make this a few more times now that asparagus are abundant.
- 1 sheet puff pastry (I used Pepperidge Farm, it is readily available)
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 1 cup whole milk ricotta
- ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon freshly grated black pepper
- Pinch of kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon flat leaf parsley, finely chopped (or any other herb you have)
- ¼ cup shredded Gruyere + 2 tablespoons (you could substitute Parmesan)
- About 10 asparagus
- Olive oil
- Zest of 1 lemon, to sprinkle over the tart before serving
- Pre-heat oven to 400F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
- Lightly flour your counter and a rolling pin, and place the puff pastry on top of your floured counter. Very lightly roll the rolling pin over the dough, just to even it out. Now transfer the dough to the prepared cookie sheet.
- Cut a one inch strip from every side of the puff pastry sheet. You will have four 1 inch strips and 1 rough square. Using a paring knife, lightly score a 1 inch margin all around your square of pastry. Lightly brush that one inch margin with beaten egg. Now place the strips on top of that margin, on each side of the square. Trim the 1 inch strips to fit the square. After you place the strips on top of the square, lightly brush the strips with egg as well. Using a fork, poke holes all over the inside square of dough. This will prevent the inside square from puffing up. Place the cookie sheet in the freezer for about 10 minutes, while you prepare the filling.
- Trim the asparagus to fit on the inside square of your puff pastry. Set aside.
- In a small bowl, add the leftover beaten egg, ricotta, nutmeg, black pepper, salt, parsley, and ¼ cup of Gruyere.
- Remove the cookie sheet with the puff pastry from the freezer. Spread the ricotta filling on the inside square of the puff pastry using an offset spatula. Place the asparagus on top. [I didn’t think of this at the time, but you may want to alternate the asparagus so that there is a top spear on each side like this. That way everyone will get asparagus tops in their serving]. Sprinkle with Gruyere cheese, and drizzle with olive oil. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until dark golden brown.
- Remove the tart from the oven, sprinkle with salt, pepper, and lemon zest. Let cool for 5-10 minutes, and serve. Serves 4.