Just by Chance
“Kate, when you close, you tap on my door. I’ll have a little surprise for you. What kind of surprise? Oh, a secret surprise.”
East of Eden, John Steinbeck
A chance connection made at this year’s PMA Foodservice Conference with Gourmet Trading Company led to gorgeous purple, white and green asparagus arriving at my doorstep for recipe testing. I am fond of cooking with vegetables that are in season but a craving for asparagus can’t always wait! Especially when this Asparagus Goat Cheese Tart would be a stunning addition to any upcoming holiday party. Working with three colors of asparagus was such a treat. One night I made pasta with a heaping tablespoon of garlic and sausage and then the next day a lentil salad with roasted shallots and a red wine vinaigrette. But the cornmeal tart filled with creamy goat cheese and ricotta was too just special not to share.
The purple asparagus became my favorite. With a pronounced grassy taste and a regal coat of purple that envelopes the lush green center I will search for more of this fabulous asparagus at my local grocery store. The white asparagus has a mellow taste and is more tender than it’s green and purple cousins. Nestled in the creamy filling and framed by the golden cornmeal crust the pearl white asparagus was visually stunning. Evocative of a snowy winter holiday, the Asparagus Goat Cheese Tart made with white asparagus may find it’s way on the menu for New Year’s Eve.
There is something about the pairing of asparagus, cheese and a hint of lemon that I find irresistible. When I added a sprinkle of Hawaiian black lava sea salt it imparted a lushness to each bite that was extraordinary. If you don’t have Hawaiian black lava sea salt use a salt with large chunky grains. Fleur de Sel or Maldon would be appealing. The subtle softness of Meyer lemon zest with asparagus is preferred, but a standard Lisbon lemon will impart the zing the recipe requires. For this recipe I used an 11”x7” rectangle shaped tart pan with a removable bottom and rolled out the dough with a mixture of flour and cornmeal. Use more asparagus if your spears are thin. But packing the asparagus too tightly into the tart pan will hide the contrast between the filling and the spears.
|1/2 batch||of this dough|
|12 spears||fresh asparagus|
|1t||black lava sea salt or other large grained salt|
|1||Meyer lemon, zested with a channel zester|
- With a floured rolling pin on a lightly floured work surface roll out the dough in a rectangle shape that is at least the size of the tart pan with the dough approximately 1/8” to 1/4” thick. Include the width of the four sides of the pan in your measurements. To line my 11”x7” pan I rolled out a rectangle that was larger than 13”x9”. Don’t be dissuaded by any large pieces of butter as you roll out the dough. Add a little flour or cornmeal and keep rolling. Those pieces of butter will make the flaky in your crust. Fold the rectangle of dough in half and transfer to the tart pan. Center the dough in the middle of the tart pan. Unfold the dough back into a rectangle. Gently push the dough down into the contours of the tart pan without stretching the dough. Trim the dough flush with the edge of the tart pan. Chill the dough lined tart pan for thirty minutes before filling and baking.
- Heat the oven to 425°. Trim the asparagus spears to fit the interior width of the tart pan.
- In the bowl of food processor add the goat cheese, ricotta cheese and eggs. Process until throughly combined and there are no lumps. Pour the filling into the chilled tart pan until 3/4 filled. Arrange the asparagus spears on top of the filling, across the width of the pan. Press the spears down into the filling until they are submerged half way, but no further. Scatter 1/2 teaspoon of black lava salt on the filling, between the spears.
- Bake the tart for 25-30 minutes. When baked the crust will be a deep tawny brown with golden yellow undertones. A cake tester inserted in the center of the tart will come out cleanly. Cool slightly before serving. Garnish with lemon zest and serve with additional black lava sea salt.
Gourmet Trading Company shared fresh purple, green and white asparagus with me. This is not a sponsored post; the recipe and opinions are my own.
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