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Dainty Asparagus Tarts

Last updated: 2003-08-31

Dainty Asparagus Tarts

Asparagus tarts ready to eat

Prep Time: 15 minutes Cooking Time: 12 minutes
Makes: 6 tarts

These little tarts are a great starter or an accompaniment with a fish or meat meal over Succot. They are quick to make and the very successful bought pastry does not go soggy if they are made in advance.

I have spread non-dairy 'cream cheese' over the base but if you cannot get this, or prefer - use sun dried tomato paste or tapenade, the chopped olive spread. I have made this recipe individually as puff pastry does tend to crumble when cut. If you have time, make double as there always seem to be extra friends and family joining meal times during this festive period.

Asparagus has a relatively short season is always available in the supermarket. There are 2 varieties of asparagus, green and white. The green variety is grown above ground so that the entire spear is bright green. They are harvested when they are about 15 cm/ 6 inches high. The fat white asparagus tips are grown under mounds of soil to protect them from the light and harvested almost as soon as the tips appear above the soil to retain their pale colour.

Asparagus starts to lose its flavour as soon as it is cut so cooking it the day of purchase will no doubt produce the freshest results. To prepare asparagus bend the end of each stem until it snaps, which will point where it begins to toughen. I like to steam asparagus, but it can also be cooked in boiling water or the microwave.

Can be made in advance
Parev friendly


Ingredients

300g fine asparagus spears - trimmed to about 10 cm/4 inch lengths ( You need 7 spears per pastry rectangle!)
375g ready rolled puff pastry
150g Tofutti -non dairy herb cream cheese mixed with 3 tablespoons of fresh herbs - basil, chives, coriander or mint -( if you can not obtain the cheese and want a non dairy starter use 2 tablespoon sun -dried tomato paste or 2 tablespoons of tapenade.)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 egg - for glazing
Extra Virgin olive oil

Method

1) Pre-heat the oven to 200ºC/400ºF/Gas mark 6.
2) Cut the ready rolled pastry in half. Cut each into three rectangles.
3) Line a baking tray with baking parchment paper.
4) Cook the asparagus so that it is al dente. Drain and set aside.
5) Put the pastry rectangles on the baking tray and score a border into the pastry about 2 cm from the edge.
6) Glaze the pastry with the beaten egg.
7) Add the chopped herbs to the 'cream cheese'. Spread this over the pastry rectangle keeping within the border.
8) Trim the cooked asparagus so that they are all the same size and fit well within the border of the pastry. Place 7 spears on top of the 'cream cheese' mixture so that each spear sits at opposite ends. Tail to end, end to tail and so on.
9) Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
10) Bake for 12 minutes or until golden brown.

To serve the stylish way:
Serve either hot or warm and drizzle over quality extra virgin olive oil and a dusting of black pepper.