If it's Spring (in New Zealand anyway), it must be asparagus season.
Being a semi-reluctant vegetable eater, I like my vegetables adorned with extras (think cauliflower in a cheese sauce), so I usually roast asparagus with olive oil, garlic and lemon zest (see below). Taking this embellishment a (big) step further, I'm delighted to say they taste just wonderful in this creamy filling wrapped in a rich pastry.
These tarts are ideal for lunch (or a simple supper dish). Serve with a lightly dressed salad of bitter greens such as rocket, red leaf lettuce, watercress, radicchio and endive, for contrast.
350g plain flour
½ tsp salt
4-5 tbsp cold water
1 bunch cooked asparagus*
300ml single cream
2 egg yolks
sea salt & ground pepper
pinch nutmeg or freshly grated nutmeg
* For extra flavour, I roast mine in the oven with a drizzle of olive oil, crushed garlic and lemon zest for 12-15 minutes but you can boil the spears lightly in salted water until tender.
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C.
Sift the flour and salt into a mixing bowl. Add 175g of the butter and rub it into the flour with your fingertips. Add the water and bind to a dough.
Roll the dough out on to a lightly floured board and cut to the size of your tart tins. I used four mini tart tins with a base diameter of 8.5cm and a top diameter of 11.5cm.
Line the base of the tins with a circle of baking paper (I do this even though I use non-stick tins - just in case!). Using a fork, prick the base of each tart then place the tart tins on a baking tray and bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes until golden brown. Remove the tray with the tart tins from the oven while you prepare the filling. Turn the oven down to 180 degrees C.
Cut the asparagus to fit and divide between the tins. Whisk the cream and egg yolks together and season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Pour the mix carefully and evenly amongst the tins. Depending on the size of your tins, you may have some left over.
Return the tarts to the oven and bake for 15 minutes until filling has set. The filling should be just set and no more.
Serve with a lightly dressed salad of bitter greens.