Tart Me Up: Asparagus Ricotta Tart

Asparagus Ricotta TartI just realised I’ve been a bad, bad blogger.  Asparagus season is winding down, and I still haven’t posted a single recipe featuring asparagus. Tsk tsk.

I do have an excuse, though.  The fact is, for the first few weeks after asparagus make an appearance, I prefer to make it using the most simple and unadorned methods available – briefly steamed until tender crisp, or tossed with a little olive oil and grilled until lightly charred and wilted.  It’s an antidote to a whole winter’s worth of slow-roasted, braised, baked, mashed and otherwise fussy vegetables.

By this point in the season, the initial feeding frenzy is usually over… and yet, I still can’t seem to walk into the greengrocer without adding a bundle or two of bright green elastic-wrapped spears to my basket.  I just can’t resist the lure of those trays filled with slender asparagus tipped with just the barest hint of mauve, especially when they’re now at the bargain-basement price of 2 bundles for $3.00!  Sure, by now there are sweet peas and radishes and garlic scapes to compete for my attention, but even so, I always return to the noble asparagus.

Asparagus Ricotta Tart

Besides, once the last of the Ontario crop disappears from my greengrocer’s stands, it’ll be many months before I can lay my hands on reasonably-priced asparagus, so I may as well eat my fill while I can.  So I make the most of the bounty by whipping up cream of asparagus soup, asparagus quiche, asparagus omelettes, and so on and so forth.

Asparagus SpearsOne evening, inspired by a tub of snow-white ricotta from the Montforte Dairy stand at the local farmers market, I ended up concocting this pretty little tart.  The filling is my usual savoury cheese tart base – a blend of creamy cheese, fresh lemon zest, earthy fresh thyme, and a drizzle of cream for moisture and richness – on top of which I’ve arranged a pattern of bright green pencil-thin spears of fresh asparagus.

It’s rather elegant, quite delicious and surprisingly easy.  The buttery pastry and creamy, lemony filling make a perfect counterpoint to the green earthiness of the asparagus spears, who are clearly still the stars of this show.

Served outdoors in a sun-dappled backyard, with a simple green salad and a crisp white wine alongside, it’s quite possibly the best possibly send-off for this year’s local asparagus crop (or, at the very least, a most satisfying meal).

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4.5 from 2 reviews
Asparagus and Ricotta Tart
Author: 
Recipe type: Main
Serves: 4 to 6
 
This pretty spring-inspired tart is filled with a lemony ricotta filling and topped with fresh asparagus. Serve with a simple green salad as part of a light brunch, or as the main course for a vegetarian dinner party.
Ingredients
  • 1 sheet prepared puff pastry, defrosted
  • 1 cup fresh ricotta cheese
  • ½ cup grated romano cheese
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • 12-14 spears asparagus, trimmed
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425F.
  2. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the puff pastry into a 16x7" rectangle. Transfer to a 14x4" rectangular tart pan with a removable bottom, and press the pastry down against the bottom and up against the sides. Run a rolling pin over the top to create a clean edge. (If you don't have a rectangular tart pan, place the rolled-out pastry on a parchment-lined cookie sheet, and fold in the edges to create a 1" wide border).
  3. Pierce the bottom and sides of the crust with a fork. Line with parchment paper and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 10 minutes in preheated oven, then remove the parchment and weights. Continue baking the crust for another 5-7 minutes, or until golden. Gently press down the bottom of the crust if it has puffed up too much, then set aside to cool for 5-10 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl, use a fork to mash together the ricotta, romano, lemon zest and thyme until combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add beaten egg and cream, and mix until smooth. Spread evenly into the cooled crust.
  5. Cut the asparagus into 3½" lengths. Arrange cross-wise on top of the filling, alternating between spears and stems, until the filling is completely covered.
  6. Bake in preheated oven for 15-20 minutes, or until asparagus are tender and filling is lightly browned.
  7. Let rest for 5-10 minutes before slicing and serving, or let cool completely to serve at room temperature.

Comments

  1. Tori @ The Shiksa in the Kitchen says

    Hi Isabelle! Mmmm, asparagus and ricotta, two of my faves! I tasted the most incredible ricotta a few weeks ago at a restaurant in Berkeley, it was sheep’s milk ricotta from Bellwether Farms. Going back up to the Bay Area in a few weeks, and I’m hoping to visit the farm itself so I can bring home some fresh ricotta. I’ll be needing ideas for what to make with it. Thanks for the recipe!

  2. Tiffany says

    Isabelle, this tart is like a work of art! It’s gorgeous!!!!!! I can almost taste that fluffy ricotta. And you are NOT a bad blogger. LOL! :D

  3. Lynn says

    Gorgeous tart. I’m ashamed to say I haven’t picked up any asparagus yet this season. I seriously need to get on that!

  4. Peggy says

    What a beautiful tart! So glad you could share an asparagus recipe with us before the season is over – and a mighty fine one at that!

  5. Celia says

    I’m so glad you’re getting your asparagus in before the season ended! You obviously love it – your description of this tart reads like a steamy romance novel. :-) The lemon and thyme are an awesome addition – I bet this tastes so bright and springy. Yum!

    • Isabelle says

      Ha. Apparently my not-so-secret addiction to reading cheesy romance novels is bleeding into my writing.
      I’ll have to watch out, or else I’ll find myself throwing references to heaving bosoms in a post about chocolate cake… not that it would be entirely out of place, come to think of it (dunno ’bout you, but my bosom heaves a little when I find a really really good chocolate cake). :)

  6. baobabs says

    what a great idea!! asparagus tart! stunning photos and by the way i really love your ‘crumb’ headmast! very cute!

    • Isabelle says

      Thanks! There was much cursing and many slices of burnt toast involved in its creation, but I’m quite happy with the way it turned out in the end. :)

  7. Heidi @ Food Doodles says

    Beautiful tart! The filling sounds delicious!! I wonder if I have time to try this still. I love asparagus :)

    • Isabelle says

      Hope you get a chance, Heidi. I know I picked up some asparagus just on the weekend (we grilled it for dinner last night), so hopefully we’ve still got another week or so before it disappears!

  8. Maureen says

    This looks so good. You’ve done the asparagus proud! I can’t wait to try it. Love the size of the tart pan too.

  9. Wendy says

    Lovely – particularly love the rectangular tart pan! I’ve been out of town for while, but suspect asparagus season has passed me by down here in DC. So sad.

  10. Dan says

    Rustic and beautiful! YOU feel bad for not using asparagus yet this summer? Well, imagine how bad I feel for missing out on an Asparagus Festival (really!) that just happened right outside of Calgary a few weeks ago. Bad, bad food blogger Dan! :)

    • Isabelle says

      A whole festival for asparagus? Sounds like my version of heaven. :) I’d probably be kicking myself too if I’d missed that!

  11. Ruth says

    What a beautiful tart! We have a few weeks of asparagus season left too, if I’m, lucky, so I may get a chance to make this!

  12. Natalie says

    Such a pretty tart, seems a shame to spoil it! But I’m sure I would force myself :D I love your ricotta, lemon & thyme base, delicious with everything!

  13. Christina says

    This looks absolutely amazing! The filling itself sounds like it can be eaten for a brunch or as a side for a bbq. Great make-ahead dish :”)

    • Isabelle says

      I do these sorts of cheese tarts a lot for brunches… thank goodness for prepackaged puff pastry! It’s truly a godsend when I want to do something company-worthy but don’t have the time to futz with pastry.

  14. Pretend Chef says

    This tart looks beautiful and so delicious. I’d be the only one in my household eating this. Better bookmark this recipe for a time when my guy is out on the road. Yummy!

    • Isabelle says

      I guess maybe I should change the serving size to 1, then? :) (The Boy isn’t a big fan of ricotta, and was just so-so on this tart… so I totally feel your pain.)

  15. katescakesandbakes says

    This looks the ideal summer tart- and perfect for promoting, as you say, ‘the stars of the show’!

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