A delicious and pretty spring tart. Instead of using all asparagus you could bulk out the tart with a layer of sautéed onions or leeks on the base and/or add other spring vegetables like broad beans, peas or broccoli. Feel free to replace the Gruyere with Cheddar or any other cheese to your liking.
For the Pastry:
130g Plain or Wholemeal Flour (or a mix of the two), or Gluten Free Flour, plus a little extra for rolling
65g Butter, straight from the fridge, plus a little extra for greasing
Salt & Pepper
1 egg yolk and a little cold water
For the Tart Filling:
400g Asparagus, washed
3 free range Eggs
200ml Creme Fraiche
1 heaped tsp Dijon Mustard
100g Gruyère, grated
Salt & Pepper
1 tbsp finely grated fresh Parmesan
1) Start by making your pastry. Easiest and quickest in a food processor, but can be made by hand too. If using a processor blitz the flour, salt, pepper and butter together until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the egg yolk and blitz again. With the machine still on add a little very cold water and continue to add until the mixture starts to come together in one piece. Wrap in cling film and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before using.
2) Pre-heat the oven to 200ºC/Gas Mark 6.
3) Snap off the tougher ends of the asparagus and throw away, slice the stems into 1 to 2cm slices, retaining spheres approximately half the width of your tart case. Steam for 3 to 5 minutes until almost tender. Immerse in cold water, drain and set aside.
4) Lightly beat the eggs then stir in the creme fraiche, mustard, grated Gruyère and a pinch of salt black pepper. Set aside.
5) Lightly grease your chosen tart case with butter.
6) Roll out the rested pastry on a floured surface into a round slightly bigger than your case. Transfer to the case. Hang any excess of pastry over the sides. Prick the base all over with a fork. Place a piece of greaseproof paper over and fill with baking beans to weight down the pastry. Bake for 20 minutes, remove the beans and bake for a further 5 minutes. While still hot trim the pastry around the top of the tart case to make a neat edge.
7) Place the small slices of asparagus in the bottom of the tart case. Pile on the creme fraiche filling. Now carefully arrange the asparagus spheres in a pretty ‘sunshine’ design on the top. Sprinkle over the Parmesan.
8) Bake in the oven for 30 to 35 minutes until firm to touch and golden brown on top.