Tarte aux Asperges (Asparagus Tart)

June 1, 2010

A gourmet who thinks of calories is like a tart who looks at her watch.
~James Beard

By no means is this merely chick shtick.

The fetching bounties of spring and asparagus still abide, so take advantage. This savory tart bares the simplicity of those roasted green spears coupled with a provocative cheese and flaked pastry. At first blush, it may seem lame that the recipe calls for a frozen puff pastry, but that was by design and born of empathy. It was a call between that fret not vs. woe in the kitchen. I am not meaning to dissuade, but am just offering some realistic advice. Crafting a pâte feuilletée from scratch is a rather arduous task and can be rife with risk—even demanding a personal pastry chef at your beckoned call. No such luck here.

ASPARAGUS TART

1 sheet of frozen puff pastry (pâte feuilletée), thawed
2 T Dijon mustard
2 C gruyère cheese, shredded
1 1/2 lb medium thick (+) asparagus, woody bottoms trimmed off
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Extra virgin olive oil, for brushing

Preheat oven to 400 F

On a floured work surface, roll the puff pastry out into a 16″ x 10″ rectangle. Trim uneven edges. Place pastry on a baking sheet. Score pastry 1″ in from the edges to mark an interior rectangle. Using a fork, pierce pastry inside the markings at 1″ intervals. Bake until only light golden, about 8-10 minutes. Allow to cool some.

Brush the mustard around the inside rectangle. Strew the shredded gruyère over the mustard. Arrange the asparagus in a single regimental layer over the cheese, alternating ends and tips. Season with salt and pepper. Brush the uncovered outside edges of the pastry with olive oil.

Bake until the asparagus is tender and the pastry is golden brown, about 18-20 minutes. Allow to rest and serve either warm or at room temperature.

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