Friday 5 April 2013

Asparagus Tart with Sundried Tomatoes and Feta

I don't have any asparagus planted at the new location yet (on order!), but the weather is so cold, it would not be up anyway.  Since fresh asparagus is only available for a short period, I have to get it where I can, so I've just picked some up from the grocery store.

This is a really simple tart; just a few ingredients.  I was too lazy to make a pastry, and just used a frozen Tenderflake deep dish pastry crust that I had on hand.

But first things first ... preparing and roasting the asparagus spears.  There is some debate about preparing asparagus.  It can be a bit tough and woody at the bottom so you need to remove some of the lower portion.  I use the break method ... hold the asparagus near each end and bend; where it snaps, discard the lower portion.  This is an easy approach to ensure you have the most tender part of the asparagus to eat.  But it is a bit wasteful.  The lower portion is often fine and just needs some of the outer portion shaved off (using a vegetable peeler) to uncover the tender parts.

After rinsing, you have two options to cook - roast or grill.  Start by tossing your spears with a bit of olive oil, and S&P.  Either grill in a grill pan, turning over until browned, or roast in a 375 degree oven for about 25 minutes.

1 single 9" pastry crust
Roasted asparagus, approx. 18 spears
1 large shallot, diced
5-6 sundried tomatoes, diced
1/4 cup crumbled sheep's milk feta
2 Tbsp freshly grated parmesan
2 large eggs
Half and Half cream (10%)

 Preheat over to 350.  Blind bake the pastry shell for 15 minutes.  In the meantime, saute the shallots - you don't want any colour, just saute enough to soften.  Add in the sundried tomatoes for a minute or two to soften them as well.  Chop the asparagus spears into 1" lengths (set aside 4-6 to decorate the top of the tart).  The shallots, sundried tomatoes and asparagus pieces should amount to about 1 cup total.

Wait until the pastry shell and sauteed ingredients are both at room temperature. Add the sauteed ingredients into the bottom of the partially baked pastry shell.  Crumble in the feta cheese, and sprinkle with the parmesan.

Beat the eggs in a large measuring cup.  Add enough cream to make a total of 1 1/2 cups of liquid. Add about 1/2 tsp of each salt and pepper.  You don't need a lot of salt due to the saltiness of the feta.  Pour the liquid over the ingredients.

Bake 35-40 minutes.  If you want to decorate the top, wait until the halfway point when the filling will be partly baked.  Place roasted asparagus spears across the top and finish baking.