A great French recipe for asparagus: Asparagus Quiche Tartlets. I love serving these as a light supper, a gratifying lunch….or cutting them into quarters for fun little bites on an appetizer buffet.
Asparagus Quiche Tartlets
Makes 6 tartlets
1 recipe Rich Pastry for Savory Tarts (see below)
1/4 pound asparagus, trimmed
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 large eggs
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup grated cheese (great choices include Comté, Gruyère, Fontina, or white cheddar)
1. While the pastry dough is chilling, position the oven racks in the lower and middle thirds of the oven. Preheat the oven to 450°F.
2. Place the asparagus in the pan, drizzle with the olive oil, and season with salt and pepper; toss to coat the asparagus with the oil. Place the pan on the center oven rack and roast the asparagus until almost tender, about 8 minutes. Cool slightly, then cut the asparagus into 1- to 2-inch pieces. Set aside. Reduce the oven heat to 425°F.
3. Divide the chilled pastry dough into 6 portions; on a lightly floured surface, roll each into a 5 1/2-inch circle. Ease each round of pastry into a 4 1/2-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom (you can also use mini quiche dishes). With a rolling pin, roll over the top of the tart pans to trim off any extra dough.
4. Place the pans on a baking sheet and bake on the lower oven rack for 10 minutes. The pastry will not be fully baked; rather, it will be soft, slightly puffy in spots, and mostly pale. If the pastry has puffed significantly in places, flatten it with the back of a spoon (taking care not to make a hole in the crust, which could cause the filling to leak). Reduce the oven heat to 375°F.
5. Divide the asparagus among the 6 tart shells. In a small bowl, beat the eggs and the cream together. Divide evenly among the tart shells. Sprinkle the cheese evenly among the tart shells.
6. Bake until the filling is set (it will no longer jiggle when shaken), about 20 minutes, loosely covering the tartlets with a sheet of foil, if needed, during the last 5 to 10 minutes to prevent the pastry edges from overbrowning. Transfer the tartlet pans to a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes. Remove the tartlets from the pans and serve warm.
RICH TART PASTRY DOUGH FOR SAVORY TARTS
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
7 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water
In a large bowl, combine the flour and salt. Using a pastry cutter or two knives, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse sand with some pebbles. (Alternatively, put the flour, salt, and butter in a food processor. Pulse to cut in the butter, but take care not to overmix—you want small lumps of butter still present. Transfer to a mixing bowl.) Pour the egg-water mixture into the flour mixture and stir with a fork until the dough comes together; knead briefly against the side of the bowl until all the crumbs are firmly held together.
Form the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Continue as directed, above.