To my mind, nothing says warm weather like a taste of tropical sunshine. These sunny days make me think of coconut milk, pineapple juice … asparagus. Yes, you read that right. I am definitely in deep with the green-spear-loving camp. Ok, so asparagus isn’t exactly a tropical vegetable. Why should such a little detail get in the way of a great pairing? On these early summer evenings, I light the bbq, thread a handful of fresh asparagus onto a skewer (the thicker stemmed spears work better for this) and grill them until they’re smoky, juicy and still a little crispy. Put a cocktail in my hand and I’m no longer sitting in a lounge chair on my backyard patio. Is that the quiet lapping of the waves on the shore I hear? Fine, so it’s just someone doing the dishes nearby. Whatever. The point is that with such a short harvest season take advantage of fresh asparagus when you can. Snap up a few bunches as soon as you see them, and try using them in some new creation, like this tasty asparagus tart I made recently. Soon, you, too, will find yourself singing the praises of the lovely asparagus spear.
Need: one 8-inch tart pan with a removable bottom
The chickpea flour adds a subtle nutty flavour to the crust. Feel free to use regular or whole wheat flour instead. Just for fun, I used gluten-free all-purpose flour to great success.
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup chickpea flour
1/2 tsp salt
6 Tbsp cold, unsalted butter
2 large egg yolks
2 Tbsp ice water
1. In a large bowl, combine flours and salt. Cut in butter until the mixture resembles pea-sized meal. Stir in egg yolks. Add ice water. Stir dough briefly; tip dough out onto a cutting board. Use your hands to quickly bring the dough together into a ball. Wrap it in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes.
2. Sprinkle flour over a cutting board. Roll the dough out to a 9-inch round. Place the dough carefully into a tart pan with a removable bottom. Press dough into the sides of the pan. Prick the bottom of the shell all over and chill for 10 minutes in the freezer.
3. Line the chilled shell with parchment paper or foil. Fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake at 375°F until edges of crust are just beginning to turn brown, about 10 minutes. Remove parchment and weights. Continue baking for another 12 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely on a wire rack.
Pinch of salt
12 asparagus spears, trimmed
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup coconut milk (or 35% cream)
3/4 grated Parmigiano
1. While the pastry shell cools, grill or steam asparagus until desired texture is reached. Cut spears into 1-inch lengths.
2. In a small bowl, combine eggs and coconut milk or cream. Stir well.
3. Place cooled pastry shell on a baking sheet. Distribute the asparagus over the bottom of the shell. Pour egg mixture overtop. Sprinkle with grated cheese. Bake at 400°F until the filling is puffed and lightly golden, about 25 minutes. Let cool.
Serve with your favourite sparkling wine or a cool tropical cocktail.