Spring Asparagus Tart

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Finally it’s Spring! After months of soups, stews, breads and braises, it’s time to lighten up and enjoy the flavors of the season.

Spring means fresh peas, flowers and, for many, asparagus! And today, I’m sharing with you a lovely Asparagus Tart with Goat Cheese & Tarragon — another great Spring flavor — that is perfect for a celebration, like an Easter app or Mother’s Day Brunch, but is easy enough that you can make it any day.

Finished Asparagus Tart, ready to serve!

The base of this tart couldn’t be easier. Store bought Puff Pastry! I used to be a big fan of frozen puff, but frankly, I was unhappy with the folds since they came in rectangular boxes. And, because they were frozen, you had to plan ahead to make sure they were adequately defrosted to roll out, but not so warm that they were getting soft and gooey.

In the past year or so, I’ve discovered two different products that are refrigerated. Even better, they come in a rolled package, like pizza dough so no awkward seams to try to patch or roll out. With these products you just roll and go!

So, that’s what we do — open the package, put it on a parchment lined baking sheet, score it lightly around the edges to make a rim, and, just like that, you are ready to fill your Spring tart!

The creamy base is also super simple: mix equal parts goat cheese with crème fraiche. It works best if they are both at room temperature. You’ll also add an egg — at room temperature — along with some seasonings like fresh garlic, fresh tarragon, a little lemon zest for brightness, some grated nutmeg, a pinch of salt and pepper to taste.

Asparagus Tart with Goat Cheese & Tarragon

Once you’ve mixed all this together, spread it on the pastry, making sure NOT to spread it on the scored edge. Otherwise, those edges will NOT rise to make your tart rim.

Now, you’ll add your asparagus. Since you aren’t cooking them in advance, use very thin spears. It’s important that you make sure the woody stem bottoms are removed, but it’s even BETTER if you trim all the asparagus to even lengths. It’ll make the overall presentation that much more elegant, and really, if you have to trim them, why not make them all the same? As you can see from the photo, I alternate them with the tips facing the center and it makes a super pretty final product.

Once you’ve finished with your asparagus, brush the spears with a little olive oil, sprinkle on a little shredded Parmesan, another little grind of fresh black pepper, and pop it in a preheated 425 degree oven.

Let the tart bake until the pastry is puffed and golden. This should take about 25-30 minutes. Once you take it out of the oven, let it cool on the baking sheet for at least 15 minutes. While it is best eaten warm, you can hold it at room temperature for 2-4 hours. So, it’s perfect for a brunch make-ahead app, or even a side to go with the main course.

Cut tart into strips or squares and serve. See, it couldn’t be easier, right? But it looks like you had to slave over it, which IS the best part, right?

I hope you make an opportunity to try this for yourself. If you do, I’d love it if you shared your results, or even include a photo. I love being able to inspire others to try something new.

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Asparagus, Goat Cheese & Tarragon Tart

A fabulous way to showcase Spring's freshest asparagus, using all-butter puff pastry as a base and adding a creamy layer of tarragon-scented goat cheese. A great appetizer but could also be a super brunch offering.
Course: Appetizer
Keyword: appetizers, asparagus, brunch tart, cheese appetizer, easy but elegant, elegant but easy, goat cheese appetizer, puff pastry, savory tart

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup mild goat cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 large egg, beaten, at room temperature
  • 1 lg garlic clove, finely minced or pressed
  • 1 Tbsp lemon zest, finely grated
  • 1 cup creme fraiche, at room temperature (see note)
  • 1 sheet all-butter puff pastry, preferably fresh, but thawed if frozen
  • 8 oz thin asparagus, ends trimmed and/or peeled if woody
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp Parmesan, grated
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • Parmesan shavings for serving, if desired (see note)

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 425°.
  • Line up the asparagus and cut them to equal lengths. Set aside until ready to assemble tart.
  • In a medium bowl, using a fork, combine the first six ingredients and mix until smooth. Using a whisk, mix in the creme fraiche and whisk until smooth.
  • On a piece of parchment, roll out the puff pastry to a 11"x13" rectangle, roughly 1/8" thick. Using the parchment, transfer the dough to a cookie sheet. Score a 1/2" border along the edges with a sharp knife, being careful to avoid cutting through the pastry all the way.
  • Using a spatula, spread the cheese mixture evenly inside the scored border. Arrange the asparagus on top of the cheese mixture, then brush tops with olive oil. Sprinkle with sea salt and the grated Parmesan cheese.
  • Bake the tart until the pastry is golden brown and puffed up, about 25-30 minutes. Allow to cool slightly (about 10-15 minutes) if serving warm, or up to 4 hours if serving cold.
  • Before serving, sprinkle the tart with black pepper and Parmesan shavings, if using. For a final touch, drizzle a little high-quality olive oil over the tart.

Notes

Note: If you can’t find creme fraiche easily, you can substitute and equal amount of cream cheese, at room temperature. Because cream cheese has a neutral flavor, you may want to increase the amount of goat cheese you use to compensate. Thin the cheese mixture with a little milk to make it slightly creamy.
Many stores offer Parmesan already pre-shaved. You can certainly purchase this, or, if you prefer, you can use a standard vegetable peeler to shave a block of Parmesan just before serving your tart.

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