When I open my newspaper’s food section on Wednesdays, I keep my fingers crossed that its editors haven’t whipped up something similar to what I have planned for my Friday post. Well, my time is evidently up!
This week, the Boston Globe published a recipe that resembled what I have for you today and it truly looks delicious. Here is the link to that recipe for an Asparagus, Ham and Ricotta Crostata. At least we didn’t use the same cheese!
C’est la vie. Everyone wants to be on top of seasonal produce and The Kitchen Scout is no different!
This week, I planned to share a recipe featuring that glorious vegetable, Asparagus. Available most of the year, but meant to be eaten in Spring, Asparagus is the lovely lady of the vegetable patch. Tall and slender and so pretty in its presentation. I favor the green variety and in fact, the only time I have eaten white asparagus was during my junior year in France. One night for dinner, my French “mother” served cold white asparagus with a dipping sauce that was pretty delicious.
I originally thought about featuring this seasonal vegetable in a pasta primavera. But then, I recalled a wonderful recipe I love from the Fig’s cookbook that I’ve mentioned on the blog before. Fig’s was a local restaurant in the Boston area owned by chef Todd English. They were famous for their pizza and one of my favorites was named for chef’s daughter, Isabelle. A classic pairing, ham and asparagus share dough with caramelized onions and mozzarella, producing a burst of Spring with every slice. While the ingredients for my tart were inspired by the Fig’s pizza, the method and use of puff pastry was inspired by a Martha Stewart recipe.
Early in the week, I made two versions, one with Gruyere which pairs so well with the other ingredients and one with aged Provolone. I invited my friends Helen and Cherie over to share lunch and catch up. We liked both versions equally and also enjoyed my Shaved Tuscan Kale and Brussels Sprouts Salad. If you haven’t made that salad, please do so stat! It’s so delicious.
With the exception of needing to caramelize the onions and blanching the asparagus, this tart comes together so quickly that it is perfect for a weeknight supper with a salad, a light lunch or brunch. You can even cut the tart into small pieces and serve it as an appetizer.
Look for tight tips when you purchase asparagus as it’s an indicator of freshness. If not using immediately, it’s best to store the asparagus tips up in a container that has about an inch of water…
The spears are blanched for a few minutes and then shocked in ice water to stop the cooking and to help the asparagus retain its bright green color…
Puff pastry is available at most supermarkets in the freezer section. Allow the dough to thaw for about 40 minutes at room temperature…
Roll the dough on a lightly floured surface into a rectangle that is 12 by 10 inches. Take a sharp knife and score the dough as shown, about 1/2 inch from the edges. This will allow the edges to puff up around the filling when it’s baking. Place the prepared dough back into the fridge to firm up as you want it as cold as possible when it goes into the oven…
Caramelizing your onion takes about 25 minutes which can be done ahead. Store the prepared onions in the refrigerator and add leftovers to sandwiches, burgers or salads. They would also be delicious on crostini that is spread with goat cheese or ricotta…
One large onion cooks down to a little less than 1 cup of caramelized goodness…
Brush the chilled dough with a little olive oil and sprinkle with some chopped garlic, salt and pepper. Start the layers of flavor with the baked ham…
Add about half of the sweet caramelized onions, making sure to spread them evenly so you get some in every bite…
Layer on the Gruyere or aged Provolone…
Add your blanched asparagus spears. I had all my tips pointing in one direction, but you might want to alternate them. Brush the spears with the remaining olive oil and finish with a shaving of Parmesan cheese and a little salt and pepper…
All that is left to do is to brush the edges with a beaten egg and pop it in a 400 degree oven for about 20 minutes…
Choose your garnish or leave it as is. Sprinkle with some more Parmesan Cheese if you’d like. Or drizzle it with reduction of balsamic vinegar…
See how those edges puffed up?
I hope you make this Asparagus, Ham and Gruyere Tart soon. If you do, please let me know what you think in the comments or on Facebook. Follow me on Instagram for more bites during the week!
- 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 large sweet onion such as Vidalia, sliced thinly into half moons
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed but still cold
- 4 slices baked Virginia ham
- 12 Asparagus spears, ends trimmed
- 1 1/2 cups freshly grated Gruyere or Aged Provolone Cheese, about 4 ounces
- 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh garlic
- 1 Tablespoon freshly grated Parmesan Cheese, more for finishing
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 scallion, thinly sliced or 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh chives for garnish
- For the onions, melt the butter in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the sliced onions and a sprinkling of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Saute the onions over medium heat, stirring to prevent sticking and burning, for approximately 25 minutes until browned and caramelized. Allow to cool.
- While the onions are cooking, blanch the asparagus in boiling water for approximately three minutes. Remove from water and immediately place in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Drain and pat dry.
- Unfold the defrosted puff pastry onto a lightly floured surface. Roll into a rectangle that is 12 by 10 inches. With a sharp knife, lightly score dough 1/2 inch from the edges to form a rectangle. Place dough on parchment lined baking sheet. Return dough to refrigerator until ready to assemble the tart.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees with rack in the middle.
- Brush the inside rectangle of the dough with 1 teaspoon olive oil and sprinkle with the garlic, a pinch of kosher salt and some freshly ground black pepper.
- Layer the slices of ham onto the dough, overlapping if necessary. Make sure to stay inside the scored rectangle.
- Add half of the caramelized onions (reserve remaining onions for another purpose), all of the cheese and the asparagus. Brush the asparagus with the remaining olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Top with the Parmesan cheese.
- Brush edges of pastry with beaten egg and place tart in oven for 20-25 minutes or until the edges are golden brown and the cheese is melted.
- Finish with additional Parmesan if desired. Garnish with either the chopped scallion or chives.