May 19, 2010

Fall in love with asparagus

I love asparagus. Asparagus. That is why I am sharing this romantical vegetable photo with you.

I have fond childhood memories of asparagus. My grandparents grew it in their garden! Everyone should experience the transformation this vegetable undergoes from small stalk to a tall and feathery weed-like grass. Any agrarian metaphors you might use to add meaning to your spiritual and emotional life will not break down with asparagus. Love grows.

And women in love never have to care about eating too much pastry dough. And that is why we will make a tart with our asparagus.

Asparagus and Mushroom Tarts (from Bon Appetit):

1 17.3-ounce package frozen puff pastry (2 sheets), thawed
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
12 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms, stemmed, caps cut into 1/4-inch-wide strips
1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper, divided
1 pound slender asparagus spears, trimmed, cut on diagonal into 1-inch pieces
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated lemon peel
1/2 cup crème fraîche (if you're running two hours late for brunch, and the only store near you carries a great variety of greek yogurts, just use greek yogurt.)
1/2 cup (packed) coarsely grated Gruyère cheese (about 2 ounces)
Fresh thyme sprigs (for garnish)


Roll out each pastry sheet on work surface to 10-inch square. Cut each into 4 squares. Using small knife, score 1/2-inch border (do not cut through pastry) around inside edges of each square. Arrange squares on 2 rimmed baking sheets. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.

Melt butter in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms; sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Sauté until tender and lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Transfer mushrooms to large bowl; cool 15 minutes. Add asparagus, chopped thyme, lemon peel, 3/4 teaspoon coarse salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper to mushrooms. Mix in crème fraîche and cheese. DO AHEAD Filling can be made 1 day ahead. Cover; chill.

(I strongly urge you all to plan your lives around this tart--and make the filling and roll out the dough ahead of time. Maybe you want to go jogging instead. Well, sometimes we make sacrifices for love.)

Position 1 rack in top third and 1 rack in bottom third of oven and preheat to 400°F. Mound filling atop pastry squares, leaving 1/2-inch plain border.

Bake tarts 12 minutes. Reverse sheets. Continue to bake tarts until crusts are puffed and golden and filling is cooked through, about 10 minutes longer. Transfer to plates; garnish with thyme sprigs.




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