Preserves & Condiments
Vegetarian & Vegan
Another trug-full of asparagus was ready for picking this morning and as my Feta Tart has proved to be a really popular recipe on the A Cook’s Plot blog (see my earlier post), I thought it would be good to come up with a seasonal variation that could be made really quickly - in the end, this took about an hour from picking the asparagus to serving the tart. The usual advice is to stick to mild flavours with asparagus but I’ve found that horseradish, although it has a strong taste when you have a spoonful on the side of the plate, mellows beautifully when it’s cooked and works really well with delicate flavours. So I’ve used it here, along with some chopped fresh dill - if you want to be strictly seasonal, leave out the dill as it’s not ready for picking in the garden yet but it does make the tart super-delicious.
As you can see in the photo, the tart case is a bit ragged around the edges, to say the least! Normally when I line a tart case with pastry, I use a sharp knife to trim off the excess, leaving it a bit higher than the tin so that it can shrink down a little as it cooks. This time, I decided to do what a lot of chefs do and bake the tart case with the excess pastry still overhanging and then use a rolling pin to roll it off to the height of the tin once the pastry is cooked and crisp. I obviously haven’t got the knack, though… But never mind - my food is always more about the flavour than about fancy presentation!
Make the pastry by whizzing the flour, butter and a tsp of salt in a food processor until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add enough cold water, a tbsp at a time, until it starts to come together as a dough and then tip out onto a work surface and bring together lightly with your hands. Chill for 15 mins then roll out and line a loose-bottomed flan tin. Bake blind (see The Fig Tarts recipes in a previous post for how to do this) for 10 mins at 180C fan oven, then remove the baking beans and bake for a further 5 mins until base is just turning golden.
Meanwhile, boil the asparagus spears for 2 mins in salted water and whisk the eggs, milk, cheese, dill and mustard together with plenty of seasoning. Spread the horseradish over the base of the tart case then pour in the egg mixture. Arrange the asparagus spears on the top (you could arrange them in a circle with all the tips towards the centre if you like - I didn't have the time or patience for that!) then bake for 30 mins until the filling is set in the centre and nicely browned. Leave to stand for 10 mins before serving - it's really good cold too.