The Recipe: An asparagus tart that's simple to make but impressive in appearance. Perfect for spring brunches and light suppers.
The Conversation: Hoot-hoot! We have new neighbors!
A great horned owl has taken up a perch on the next block.
He’s big: two feet tall and wings aspan, four feet wide.
And loud: since the mating season commenced in February, neighbors have asked, "Did you hear The Owl last night? He woke me out of a dead sleep!"
Two years ago, a pair of owls took up nest in a tree hollow a block the other direction. Soon there were little owls, owlets they’re called, all fluff and famish.
Good neighbors, these owls, if a tad noisy. Family folk too, it’s nice to have little ones around. Welcome to the neighborhood!
Somehow this tart is light and rich at the same time. Still, it’s not hearty like a thick and eggy quiche so serve it with fruit salad or greens dressed with a year-round favorite, Orange & Cumin Vinaigrette.
ORANGE & CUMIN VINAIGRETTE is a simple, bright dressing that pairs beautifully with the creamy, woodsy custard tart. Just whisk the juices of an orange and a lemon with 2 teaspoons honey, 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin and a tablespoon of good olive oil. Stir in a clove of minced garlic and some chopped green onion. Just delicious!
ASPARAGUS CUSTARD TART
Time to table: 60 minutes
- 1 Pillsbury refrigerated pie crust (see ALANNA’s TIPS)
- 1 pound asparagus, woody ends trimmed
- 2 large eggs
- 2/3 cup half & half
- 1/2 cup good cheese, grated (something flavorful such as Gruyère or Parmesan)
- 1 tablespoon fresh tarragon, minced (see TIPS)
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- Pepper to taste
CRUST Heat oven to 450F/230C. Bring crust to room temperature. Open the crust onto a lightly floured work surface, turn to lightly coat with flour, then turn again. With a rolling pin, working from the center out, gently and evenly thin the crust. Transfer to a lightly greased quiche pan. Double over the edge to form the sides, then pinch the top edge to form an attractive crust. Prick the bottom and sides with a fork to prevent bubbling. Bake for 15 minutes until golden. Cool.
ASPARAGUS Steam asparagus until cooked but still bright green. Drain on paper towels to absorb moisture. Trim the spears to fit (see TIPS), spoke fashion with tips pointing out, atop the pastry. You'll have lots of ends left over: cook's treat!
CUSTARD Reduce oven to 350F/175C. Whisk the custard ingredients and gently pour over the asparagus.
BAKE Bake the tart for 20 minutes or until the center jiggles slightly but is fully cooked.
TO SERVE Serve warm or at room temperature. Truthfully, it's also good cold!
MAKE-AHEAD TIPS This tart makes ahead and travels beautifully.
VARIATIONS I'm always tempted to add a little lemon zest to the custard. Lemon and asparagus are such good buddies!
ALANNA's TIPS If you’re born to pastry skills, do make your own crust. I love my recipe for Flaky Tender Pie Crust, including Pie Crust Tips and photo instructions. So many people report making their best crust ever! I rarely steam asparagus anymore, I just put it in the microwave! Here's How to Microwave Asparagus. When arranging the cooked asparagus, alternate slightly longer spears with slightly shorter ones. Fresh tarragon is a lovely complement to both the asparagus and custard, try not to skip it.
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