I’ve been going through a lot of asparagus lately, steamed or grilled, with a quick kiss of green garlic aïoli, dressed in vinaigrette or spritzed with lemon and black pepper. This time of year, I’ll eat asparagus nearly every day until I’m positively sick of it, until I don’t want to look at another spear of asparagus ever again. Which, fortuitously, is usually just in time for the season to wind down, and then blink, a year goes by and I’m wondering when the asparagus will be coming in again.
And when you’re eating so much of the stuff, a little variety comes in handy. This recipe first caught my eye with its fetching good looks, but then I happily realized it’s in the quick-and-easy category as well: store-bought puff pastry browned in the oven, fresh green asparagus and tangy Gruyère cheese arranged on top and a finishing bake. Voilà! A very pretty dish for lunch that sings of spring. I brushed the tart with a bit of grainy Dijon mustard, and while I liked the acidity, the mustard’s tang overwhelmed the asparagus slightly; I might just drizzle on some balsamic vinegar before serving the next time out. Served with a bright salad, the flaky richness of the puff dough satisfies for a vegetarian main course, or you could add it to a chic, simple brunch spread. I might serve the tart with Julia Child’s ramekin-baked eggs, some nice prosciutto and a heap of strawberries. Mimosa, anyone?
Asparagus Gruyère Tart
adapted from Everyday Food: Great Food Fast, 2007
- 14 oz frozen puff pastry
- 1 1/2 C Gruyère cheese, shredded
- about 2 lbs medium asparagus
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- Salt & pepper
Thaw the puff pastry in the fridge, 2-3 hours or per package instructions.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Lightly flour your work surface and roll out the puff pastry into a 14″ x 11″ rectangle. With a sharp paring knife, score the dough 1″ from the edge of the puff dough (taking care not to cut all the way through) to form a rectangle. Pierce the dough inside the rectangle repeatedly with a fork, in about 1/2″ intervals; docking the dough will keep it from puffing up too much and form the tart’s border. Bake until golden brown, 15-18 minutes.
Meanwhile, snap the woody ends off each asparagus spear (the asparagus will give way at just the right part). Remove the pre-baked dough from the oven. Sprinkle with cheese. Line with the asparagus spears, tightly sandwiched, alternating ends and tips and trimming to fit, if necessary. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake 20-25 minutes, until the puff dough is well-browned and the asparagus is tender. Serve warm or room temperature with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, if desired.