PREP TIME: 15 mins
COOK TIME: 30 mins
SERVES: 4 people
The asparagus season is relatively short here in NZ, usually running from September to December. So you need to make the most of this unique vegetable while it is available. Asparagus is a delicate vegetable and its flavours can easily be lost and overwhelmed by neighbouring ingredients on a plate, so treat it with the respect it deserves and let it shine by pairing it with subtle accompaniments.
The recipe below sets off its delicate flavour with classic ingredients and small bursts of flavour. Eating approximately 5-7 spears of asparagus will provide you with 60 per cent of your RDI for folic acid and 20 per cent RDI of vitamin C. You can enjoy this classic spring recipe for lunch or dinner.
2 sheets frozen ready-rolled shortcrust pastry, just thawed
200g pack of smoked salmon (I like to use Stewart Island smoked salmon)
250g bunch asparagus, woody ends trimmed
1 spring onion, thinly sliced
200g cream cheese
3 free-range eggs
1/4 cup cream
2 tablespoons chopped chives
800-100g pack of prosciutto
2 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley
1.Pre-heat oven to 200degC. Lightly grease and line the base and sides of an approx. 10cm x 30cm rectangular tart pan with removable base with the pastry. Place on a baking tray. Prick the pastry base all over with a fork. Line with baking paper and fill with pastry weights or rice. Bake for 5 mins. Remove paper and weights or rice. Bake for a further 8 mins or until light golden and just crisp. Reduce oven to 180degC.
2.In a bowl, place the eggs, cream cheese, spring onion and chives. Blend together. It doesn’t matter if lumps of cream cheese are left as it’s nice to bite into once cooked. Pour in your cream once the rest is combined and mix in. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
3.Leaving out two asparagus for garnish, halve all your asparagus from tip to bottom. Break up the salmon into bite-size pieces and arrange the salmon and asparagus evenly around the pastry case. Pour the cream cheese and egg mixture over the salmon mixture in the pastry case. Bake for 20 mins.
4.While this is baking, prepare your garnish. Taking a peeler, you want to peel the asparagus into ribbons. This is a bit fiddly but persevere as looks great on top of your tart.
5.Boil a small pot of water and blanch your asparagus for about 10 seconds then run under cold water and drain and dry on paper towel.
6.After the tart has been in for about 20 mins, remove from oven. Arrange your ribboned asparagus and prosciutto over the top of the tart and place back in the oven for a further 10 minutes until tart is set and garnish is just starting to brown.
7.Remove from oven, sprinkle with your parsley and serve immediately with a salad.