Now that Spring is finally in high gear around here, I thought I'd share another meatless recipe highlighting the veritable king of the season, asparagus. For such a fancy looking thing, there isn't a lot of work here, especially if you use a store bought crust. There are a few steps to bringing it all together, but much of the time spent in making this is hands-off as your crust rests, and your veggies roast.
As with many recipes we share here, this one can be easily augmented to suit your personal tastes. Don't like fennel? you should see a doctor…no problem, add some roasted red pepper instead. Goat cheese makes you gag?…a gruyere would be delicious here. Want to add a little meat to the party, how about some chopped prosciutto, or some left-over chicken?
All that said, it was killer good made as written here, so unless you have a serious problem with one of the ingredients, have a little faith and go for it, you're gonna love it!
If you're really pressed for time, don't bother with the fancy placement of the asparagus spears, just roughly chop them and sprinkle them over the tart. Because this treat is delicious either warm or at room temp, it's a great dish to bring along to a pot luck so keep it in mind the next time the Queen asks you to tea. Happy Spring!
Cheers – Steve
- 1 store bought pie crust (or make from scratch with the recipe below)
- 1 large head fennel, fronds removed, cored and cut into 1" thick wedges
- 1 Vidalia (or other sweet) onion, peeled and cut into 1" wedges
- 1 bunch asparagus, woody ends trimmed
- 6 ounces goat cheese
- 1 tablespoon tarragon, finely minced
- 5 large eggs
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
for the tart shell:
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4" cubes
- 1/4 cup ice water
for the tart crust:
- Whisk flour, sugar and salt in a medium sized bowl, add the butter and cut into the flour using a pastry cutter (or a fork) until the resembles a coarse meal. Add the cold water and gently mix with a rubber spatula until the dough comes together in moist clumps. Add more water by the teaspoon if the dough is too dry to gather. Pull the dough together in a ball, flatten into a disk and wrap in plastic film. Refrigerate for at least an hour, and up to overnight before proceeding.
- Set your oven to 375℉. Pull the dough from the fridge and let warm on the counter a few minutes before proceeding. Roll out the dough as instructed by my friend Amanda Hesser of Food52 in the video below.
- Place your rolled dough into a 10"-11" false bottom tart pan and press into place. Trim the excess dough, prick the bottom of the crust all over with a fork and place in the fridge for 20 minutes to rest.
- Line the crust with foil or parchment paper, fill with dried beans or pie weights and bake the shell for about 20 minutes. Remove the beans and paper and return to the oven for another 15-20 minutes, until the whole crust is a pale golden color. Remove from the oven and let cool.
- Turn the oven up to 400℉ and place the onion and fennel wedges on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with EVOO and season with salt and pepper, toss to coat. Place the sheet in the oven and roast the veggies, checking every 15 minutes, and stirring and flipping the wedges as required to ensure even cooking. Continue roasting until the onion and fennel are a rich, dark brown at their edges, about 35-45 minutes. Remove from the oven, dump the veggies on a cutting board and let cool, then roughly chop before proceeding.
- In the same baking sheet, lay the asparagus out in a single layer, coat with a little EVOO and season with salt and pepper. Place in the hot oven and par-roast for about 5 minutes. Remove, let cool slightly, then cut to fit the tart pan. Do this by holding one spear with it's tip in the center of the pan, and cutting it at the base so that it will fit within the diameter of the pan. Use this spear as a template and cut the rest to match. Save any pieces you cut from the base of each spear for placing around the perimeter of the pan when assembling the tart. Cut the spears in half lengthwise, from tip to tail.
- Lower the oven temperature to 375℉.
- Whisk the eggs and cream in a medium sized bowl, season with salt and pepper and add the minced tarragon, reserve. Place the chopped onion and fennel evenly in the bottom of the tart pan and top with small chunks of the goat cheese. Place any asparagus medallions chopped off the spears around the perimeter of the pan. Pour the egg mix evenly over the vegetables, then lay the split spears decoratively over the eggs, with the spear tips all meeting in the center of the tart.
- Place the tart pan on a cookie sheet and into the oven and cook for about 20-25 minutes, or until the eggs are set. Let cool at least 10 minutes before cutting and serving. Can be served warm or at room temperature.