I’ve lived in the same neighborhood for all of my twenties. I suppose you could say I’ve come of age here. A few blocks to my left is where I lived in college. It's where I first learned to drink wine and threw dinner parties on a shoestring budget. It was home-base while I traveled in Spain, it was my respite during the flood. I’ve of course moved since then, but always within sight of the place I knew well and the girl I once was.
Over the last ten years, my neighbors - my friends - have all stayed the same. Sweet Pete at the wine shop who patiently brought me up from cheap boxed wine to Russian River Pinot. My friends at the Produce Place who kept dinner on the table when I was overworked and underpaid. Even the nasty laundromat has sentiment as I prepare to leave this place.
I’ve moved a lot in my life, but this time it feels like I’m leaving a little part of myself behind. I’m a woman now, closer to 30 than I ever thought I’d be, moving into a bigger house that can accompany children in a quiet neighborhood with families. It's the end of one era and the beginning of the next.
I write all of this today, because spring is one of my favorite times at the farmer’s market. When thick stalks of bright green and purple asparagus hit the stands and talk of strawberries is on the horizon. And while it occurs to me that I don’t know where I’ll be buying said produce a month from now, what I do know is that change is good, growth is essential and remaining stagnant is no good for creativity.
So before my kitchen is boxed up and I can’t find a thing, I want to bring you this recipe for a lively, citrus-filled asparagus tart. It celebrates the first of spring’s bounty, layering fresh spring onions and crisp stalks of asparagus under green ribbons and lemon zest. It comes together quickly, and is great for a light dinner with fresh greens or as an appetizer. I must warn you though, it’s one of those appetizers that’s a bit awkward to eat in front of company you don’t know well. I prefer a fork and knife approach or just handling it like a hefty piece of pizza.
Oh and I think this tart would be excellent with a bit of prosciutto or bacon layered underneath. You could also play around with the cheese, but I recommend a soft cheese. Whatever your fancy, have fun and enjoy!
Spring VEGETABLE Tart with Asparagus and Lemon
- 1 sheet Puff Pastry, thawed
- 1 bunch Asparagus, ends removed
- 1 large or 2 medium Spring Onions, thinly sliced
- 1 Lemon, zested
- 1 cup Gruyere or other soft cheese, grated
- 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan (optional)
- Olive Oil, for drizzling
- Salt and Pepper
Optional For Garnish:
- Chives, chopped
- Asparagus ribbons
- Balsamic Glaze, for drizzling
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the thawed sheet of puff pastry on a floured surface and roll into a 14-by-10-inch rectangle. Place the pastry on a parchment lined baking sheet and use a sharp knife or pastry wheel to lightly score a 1” border in the pastry dough. Then, use a fork to pierce the dough inside the marked rectangle every 1/2” or so. This will keep the inside flat for your filling and the edges nice and puffy.
- Place the puff pastry in the oven and bake until golden, about 15 minutes. Remove and let cool. (If the pastry has risen in the middle, simply use a fork to gently pierce it and it will release air and flatten out.)
- While the pastry is baking, prepare the remaining ingredients. If you haven’t already, chop the chives, zest the lemon, slice the spring onions into thin medallions and grate the cheese.
- Next, prepare the asparagus. If you’d like to top your tart with asparagus ribbons as shown in the picture, take 2-3 stalks of asparagus and use a vegetable peeler to create ribbons. To blanch the remaining asparagus, fill a large skillet with about 2” of water and bring to a boil. Once boiling, add in the asparagus and cook until bright green, about 5 minutes. While boiling, prepare an ice bath in a large bowl. When the asparagus is finished cooking, place directly into the ice bath to stop the cooking. Then, place on a plate lined with paper towels to dry.
- To assemble the tart, first sprinkle with Gruyere. Then, layer the onions on top of the cheese and sprinkle with Parmesan if using. Next, layer the asparagus on top, alternating ends and tips. Drizzle the asparagus with oil and season with salt and pepper. Squeeze a bit of lemon juice on top and place in the oven to bake until the cheese is fully melted, about 15 to 20 minutes.
- Once baked, garnish the tart with asparagus ribbons, chives, lemon zest, additional lemon juice and a drizzle of Balsamic Glaze if you like. Enjoy!