Asparagus might have been specially made for the tart treatment—use long spears for a square pan or short ones for a rectangular pan.–Alastair Hendy
LC A Matter Of Course Note
When it comes to entertaining, we’re all for appearance and, let’s be honest here, ease. This asparagus tart recipe has got your back in all of the aforementioned categories. A handy standby for just about any spring occasion, whether first-course, main course, maybe even the only course.
Asparagus Tart Recipe
- Quick Glance
- 20 M
- 1 H
- Serves 4
- 1 bunch asparagus, ends snapped off
- 1 bunch fresh spinach (about 20 largish leaves), stems trimmed (optional)
- 4 tablespoons butter, melted
- 1 pound phyllo, thawed according to package directions
- 1 3/4 cups grated Gruyere
- 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (176°C).
- 2. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Have a bowl of ice water ready. Plunge the spears into the water for just a moment to blanch it, then remove it and toss it into the ice water. Do the same with the spinach, if using.
- 3. Meanwhile, brush a 9-inch square tart pan or a 14-inch rectangular tart pan with a little melted butter and line it with a sheet of phyllo pastry, pressing the phyllo against the side of the pan and allowing the excess to hang over the edge of the pan. Brush the top of this sheet with more butter and top it with another sheet of phyllo. Repeat until all the phyllo is used. Trim the edges of the phyllo flush with the top of the tart pan.
- 4. Drain the asparagus and the spinach, if using, and pat them completely dry.
If using spinach: Arrange a layer of spinach on the phyllo. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Add the Gruyère, a second layer of spinach, and season again. Beat the eggs, cream, and nutmeg in a pitcher or bowl, then pour the mixture over the tart. Arrange the spears in a row on the tart. Brush the exposed pastry edges with a little butter. Cut a piece of parchment or foil that covers the inside of the asparagus tart but leaves the phyllo edge uncovered.
If not using spinach: Sprinkle the Gruyère over the phyllo. Beat the eggs, cream, and nutmeg in a pitcher or bowl, then pour the mixture over the tart. Arrange the spears in a row on the tart. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Brush the exposed pastry edges with a little butter. Cut a piece of parchment or foil that covers the inside of the asparagus tart but leaves the phyllo edge uncovered.
- 5. Bake the asparagus tart, uncovered, for 15 minutes. Cover the center but not the edge of the pastry with the parchment or foil and continue to bake until the center of the tart is just set, 15 to 20 minutes more. Let the asparagus tart rest a few minutes before slicing.
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Testers ChoiceTesters Choice
Apr 18, 2011
I really liked how this tart turned out. Not only was it aesthetically beautiful, the contrast of flavors from the Gruyere and the asparagus in a custard-like layer was so delicious. The phyllo lent a complementary texture without taking over the tart (like a puff pastry would have). I had two 14-by-5 tart pans so I made two tarts, just splitting the ingredients between the two pans. I arranged the asparagus so that it was lined up at both ends of each tart pan. The recipe could include more butter, as there wasn’t enough to layer between the phyllo layers and to butter the exposed pastry when baking. I used 1/4 teaspoon of ground nutmeg, but when I make this again, I’ll use the full amount. I also omitted the spinach. If you do the same, add the Gruyère before layering the asparagus. When baking for the first 15 minutes with the inside of the tart covered with foil, some of the Gruyère stuck to the foil because I layered after arranging the asparagus (this probably wouldn’t have happened if I used parchment). Great recipe, and I look forward to making it again with my notes.
Apr 18, 2011
This is the first time I handled phyllo without cursing and, because of that, I recommend the recipe to all phyllo virgins. You’ll still have to work swiftly with the infamously delicate dough (keep it under a damp kitchen towel), but not to worry if the phyllo sheets tear—keep good faith and continue layering, and your tart will still look good. To maintain the momentum, melt an extra tablespoon of butter in case you run out of it during the assembly process. I was too generous with the brushing at the beginning and had to pop more butter in the microwave. Another thing to remember is to drain the asparagus and spinach well after they’ve cooled in the ice water. My tart was baked in a 9-inch, deep-dish pie plate (I arranged the asparagus in a starburst pattern with the tips pointing outward), and the custard set in 25 minutes after covering with parchment. The tart was creamy and cheesy, and the asparagus still had good texture. The nutmeg reminded me of moussaka, but if you’re not a fan, halve the amount, omit it, or replace it with your favorite herb.
Asparagus Tart Recipe © 2000 Alastair Hendy. Photo © 2000 David Loftus. All rights reserved.