Posts Tagged ‘Puff Pastry’

I grew up on a farm in a very rural area of the country.  We had a big grove of trees right behind our house that was perfect for all sorts of adventures– not to mention a few fantastic tree forts.  As a kid, this ‘forest’ was our playground to explore– so long as we were mindful (due to constant warning) of not trampling the wild asparagus.  It grew in bunches right in the middle of the grove, and popped up in late spring.  I recall my parents (as well as my grandmother) ceremoniously harvesting the first asparagus of the year.

I don’t grow my own asparagus, though I wish I did.  Instead, I [im]patiently wait for it to show up at the local farmer’s markets each Spring.  And once it does we tend to go through an “asparagus fest” for the two weeks that its in season. I know, I know, it’s available almost year round at some grocery stores.  I’d rather not buy it unless it’s actually in season though, just as I wait for summer tomatoes and cucumbers to show up locally in July.  It’s just not worth it to buy transported asparagus in the winter– it’s not a winter vegetable, so it doesn’t taste the same.

This Asparagus and Gruyere Tart is so easy it’s almost embarassing to write a blog post about.  The ‘crust’ is made from puffed pastry.  If your not familiar with this little gem, you can either choose to make your own (which can take a little while), or you can buy it ready-made from the grocery store.  This is one of those few times where I recommend buying the pre-made product– it’s in the freezer section, and is generally high-quality and easy to work with.

When preparing the asparagus for the tart, choose medium to thick stalks.  Cut the stalk-ends off, and use a vegetable peeler to peel them about 1/2 way up the stalk.  This will ensure  that the asparagus is tender.  This vegetable pairs so beautifully with the gruyere cheese, while the ridiculously flakey puff pastry is a the perfect canvas to hold it all together. The flavor is incredible.  My husband confessed that he really wasn’t looking forward to this meal– but he ended up loving it.

The Recipe:  Asparagus and Gruyere Tart

(Serves 4)

Flour, for work surface

1 sheet frozen puff pastry  (thaw it according to package instructions)

2 cups shredded Gruyere cheese (Emmentaler or Fontina cheese would also work beautifully)

1 1/2 pounds medium or thick asparagus spears (bottoms trimmed and peeled for optimum tenderness)

1 tablespoon olive oil

Salt and freshly cracked pepper

Preheat oven to 400°F.  On a floured surface, roll the puff pastry into a 16 x 10 – inch rectangle ( I had a difficult time getting mine to 16 inches — use your best judgement).   Trim uneven edges.  Place pastry on a baking sheet.  With a sharp knife, lightly score the pastry dough 1 inch in from the edges to mark a rectangle.  Using a fork, pierce dough inside the markings at 1/2-inch intervals.  Bake until golden, about 15 minutes.

Remove pastry shell from the oven, and sprinkle with the Gruyere cheese.  Place asparagus in a single layer over the cheese, alternating ends and tips.  Brush  with oil, and season with salt and pepper.  Bake until spears are tender, 20 – 25 minutes.   Can be served warm or at room temperature.

Source: Everyday Food: Great Food Fast

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