Asparagus & Ricotta Tart

Another great recipe for those crunchy green stems that beg to be eaten (but do they, really?). Seems that yet again the Spring swung by like a rare and never long enough holiday. But because summertime offers a wide range of fresh vegetables and fruit, I am not really that disappointed. Fresh strawberries should be making their way into the farmer's markets quite soon, followed by raspberries, wild blueberries and wild strawberries, leafy greens, cucumbers, carrots, tomatoes... Ah. Peaceful life filled with great food, isn't that a nice goal?

And as of now, I'll simply enjoy a slice of my asparagus tart with a big bunch of green salad. Cheers!

Serves 4 people as a light meal   |   1 tablespoon - 15ml   |   1 teaspoon - 5ml   |   Hands-on time: 30 mins |   Total time: 1hr 30 mins

For the filling:

  • 250 g of ricotta
  • 100g of fresh spinach
  • 20 g of grated parmesan
  • 6 cherry tomatoes
  • 10-12 fresh asparagus stems
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1/8 teaspoon of salt
  • a drizzle of olive oil

For the shortcrust pastry (makes enough dough for 1,5 26cm tart base):

  • 100 g of butter
  • 180 g of flour
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1-2 tablespoons of ice cold water
  • a pinch of salt

Make the shortcrust pastry: mix flour with salt in a bowl, cut cold butter into pieces and add on top. Work the mixture with your fingers until it resembles coarse bread crumbs. Add egg yolk and 1 tablespoon of cold water, mix it in. Squeeze the mixture between your fingers - if it just sticks together, there's no need to add more water, but if it's too dry - add 1/2 tbsp or 1 tbsp more. Knead the dough into a ball, cover and refrigerate for 15 minutes. 

Prepare the filling: wilt spinach either on a pan with a drizzle of olive oil or in boiling water. Squeeze out excess water. Mix together ricotta, parmesan, wilted spinach, lemon zest and salt in a bowl. 

Remove dough from the fridge, roll into a thin layer and press it down into a prepared baking tray. Prick with a fork and add into preheated 180°C oven for 15 minutes or until golden in colour. If the pastry starts bubbling up during baking, press the bubbles down with a glass or measuring cup and return to oven to finish. Remove from oven, let cool slightly, add the filling, top with sliced tomatoes, asparagus, a drizzle of olive oil and return to oven for about 40 minutes. You can turn on the 'grilling from the top' setting when you see that tart is nearly done - this way you'll get a nicely browned top.

TIP: shortcrust pastry can be made ahead and kept in the fridge covered. You can also freeze it, but in that case I suggest rolling it into a thin circle or square to make it easier to defrost.