Easy Asparagus Tart
One of my favorite writers describes the wait for spring as, “waiting for asparagus.” I’d like to update her portrayal to, “waiting for Easy Asparagus Tart.”
Every March, I find myself doing an extra loop around the produce section and scouring farmers markets for the first crop of local asparagus. Judging by the snow that fell in Milwaukee last week, I have a while to wait.
I thought that I could put on my patient pants and hold out, but when I saw the bright green tips of some beautiful asparagus stalks waving at me jauntily across a pile of gloomy potatoes, I lost my restraint and greedily piled four bundles into my cart.
I adore asparagus. I shave it into ribbons, then pile it atop homemade spicy asparagus pizza; I baked it into cheesy chicken asparagus casserole; I adore it simply roasted, and when I’m feeling fancy, I serve roasted asparagus with caramelized onions and pine nuts.
One of my favorite aspects of cooking in the spring, in addition to the availability of fresh asparagus, is the easier, breezier tone that spring recipes adopt. Winter, with its short days and long, cold nights, is a time for savoring time in the kitchen, lovingly poring over slowly braised meats and four-hour stews and grandma’s all-day marinara sauce. Not spring.
Spring, a precious season, is a time for easy, effortless recipes like this Asparagus Tart with Puff Pastry and Prosciutto. Flakey, buttery puff pastry makes a light and lovely base for the tart, and it requires no effort beyond unrolling. The rest of the toppings—creamy ricotta cheese, nutty Parmesan, and salty proscuitto—complement the asparagus and demand no cooking at all. Simply mix, spread, and bake.
We enjoyed this Easy Asparagus Tart with Puff Pastry for a light dinner, and I think it would be lovely as an appetizer, and for Easter or Mother’s Day brunch too.
My patient pants never did fit properly. Spring, I’ll be right here waiting for you, with a slice of Easy Asparagus Tart in each hand.
Tools I used to make this recipe:
- Parchment paper (I recently switched to precut parchment sheets. Worth it!)
- 11×17-inch all purpose baking sheet
Waiting for asparagus: This phrase was coined by author Barbara Kingsolver in her work Animal Vegetable Miracle. It’s one of my favorite books, incredibly engaging, and a must read for anyone who’s interested in seasonal eating or understanding a bit more about how and where his or her food is grown.
Easy Asparagus Tart with Puff Pastry
- 1 sheet frozen puff pastry — (9x9-inch sheet) thawed overnight in the refrigerator
- 1 large egg — plus 1 egg yolk, divided
- 1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest — plus juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese — plus additional for serving
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt — divided
- 3/4 teaspoon black pepper — divided
- 1 pound asparagus
- 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 ounces prosciutto
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
Unfold the puff pastry on a lightly floured surface. Roll into a 10 inch x 14-inch rectangle, then carefully transfer to the prepared baking sheet. In a small bowl, beat together the egg yolk with 1 tablespoon water to create an egg wash (save the egg white for a different use). Lightly brush the entire surface of the puff pastry with the egg wash. With a sharp knife, score a border around the pastry dough that is 1 inch from the edges on all sides, so that you mark a rectangle. With a fork, pierce holes in the pastry all over the center of the rectangle you just created (do not pierce the edges). Each fork imprint should be about 1/2-inch apart. Bake the puff pastry for 10 minutes. It will be golden and slightly puffed. If any areas are very puffy, gently press them down with a fork.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl whisk together the ricotta, 1 whole egg, lemon zest, lemon juice, parsley, 1/4 cup Parmesan, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Spread in an even layer over the crust, staying inside the rectangle and leaving the 1-inch border you created uncovered. Trim the bottoms of the asparagus spears to fit crosswise inside the rectangle (about 8-inches in length). Arrange them in a single layer over the ricotta, alternating ends and tips. Brush the asparagus lightly with the olive oil, and sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Tear the prosciutto into pieces and scatter it over the top.
Bake for 15 minutes, then check to make sure the pastry isn't browning too quickly. If it is, lightly tent the tart with foil, then return to the oven and continue baking until the asparagus is tender, about 5 to 7 additional minutes. Remove the tart from oven and let cool for 2 minutes. Slice and serve, sprinkled with additional Parmesan as desired.
Nutrition InformationAmount per serving (1 (of 8)) — Calories: 480, Fat: 26g, Saturated Fat: 12g, Cholesterol: 47mg, Sodium: 748mg, Carbohydrates: 48g, Fiber: 12g, Sugar: 6g, Protein: 24g
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