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Recipe: How to Make Roasted Asparagus Tart

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Although I cook and bake mostly everything from scratch, there are a handful of pre-packaged ingredients that I regularly stock in my pantry to help make meal preparation a little easier and faster. Items such as canned beans, canned tomatoes, and frozen vegetables are always within reach. Puff pastry is another item I always have in my freezer. It's one of my goals to learn how to make it from scratch someday, but since it is a labor-intensive process, buying puff pastry at the grocery store has always saved me time in the kitchen and is one of the most versatile staples you can keep in your freezer. It functions as a "blank canvas" for both sweet and savory recipes and when stored properly wrapped in the freezer, can last for months. I have nick-named puff pastry a "secret weapon" ingredient because it's easy to use and always looks and tastes impressive no matter how you use it.

With Easter quickly approaching, this Roasted Asparagus tart is a lovely addition to an Easter meal. The tart can be cut into smaller squares and served as a light appetizer, or it can be cut into larger portions and served as a side dish. This tart showcases puff pastry's delicate texture and buttery flavor which is complemented by the sweet, roasted asparagus and nutty Swiss cheese melted beneath. Roasting the asparagus spears before assembling the tart enhances their flavor and caramelizes their natural sugars. The puff pastry tart shell gets pre-baked to set its shape and then finishes browning for a few minutes after the tart is assembled. This tart has such an impressive presentation, that it will only look like you spent half the day in the kitchen making it.

Roasted Asparagus Tart

Adapted from Great Food Fast by The Kitchens of Martha Stewart Living & Everyday Food Magazine.

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch asparagus
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
  • Flour, for dusting your work surface
  • 1 sheet puff pastry (such as Pepperidge Farm), thawed in the refrigerator
  • 2 cups shredded Swiss cheese

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Wash the asparagus and pat dry. Trim about 2 inches off the bottom of each asparagus stalk. Place asparagus on a baking sheet. Drizzle on the olive oil and sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Using your hands, toss the asparagus to coat them evenly then spread them out in an even layer on a pan. Roast for 20-25 minutes, or until the spears are light golden. Remove the asparagus from the oven and allow them to cool on the baking sheet for about 10 minutes.

Line another baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper or silicone baking mat. Set aside. Keep oven at 400 degrees.

Dust a work surface with some flour. Unfold the puff pastry sheet and sprinkle it lightly with more flour. Gently roll the puff pastry sheet into a 16-by-10-inch rectangle. Use a sharp knife to trim any uneven edges. Transfer the puff pastry sheet to the parchment-lined baking sheet. Use a sharp knife to lightly score the dough 1-inch in from the edges to mark a rectangle. Be careful not to cut through the dough. Use a fork to prick the dough inside the scored rectangle at half-inch intervals. Bake the puff pastry shell for 15-20 minutes, until lightly golden. Don't worry if the puff pastry shell puffs up a bit in the middle.

Remove the pastry shell from the oven and sprinkle the inner rectangle evenly with the shredded Swiss cheese. Arrange the roasted asparagus spears crosswise in a single layer over the cheese. For the prettiest presentation, alternate the orientation of each asparagus spear. Place the tart back in the oven for an additional 15 minutes until the cheese is completely melted and the edges of the tart are golden. Remove from the oven and let the tart rest on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring it to a cutting board to cut. The tart can be served warm or at room temperature.

Flavia Scalzitti is a food blogger based in Houston, Texas. She is originally from Maryland and comes from an Italian family. Flavia grew up around people who used food and cooking as a way to keep their traditions alive, celebrate their Italian culture, express their love for their family, and nourish the people they cooked for with the freshest and best quality ingredients. She is entirely self-taught and is also passionate about baking. In addition to cooking and baking, Flavia enjoys learning about and practicing photography, reading, traveling, practicing yoga, and spending time with her husband, Peter. She blogs at Flavia's Flavors: http://www.flaviasflavors.com

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