|Top 3 images of asparagus courtesy of Pixabay|
Whilst asparagus spears have been in season here in the UK, Mr E & I have been buying a bundle each week. After all, the season is so short, it'd be churlish not to enjoy such a beautiful crop whilst it's brimming full of flavour and goodness on the supermarket shelves.
We've been enjoying our Asparagus & Baked Egg Salad of late, but this week we fancied making something a little different with them. We had the remnants of some nice soft crumbly goats' cheese in the fridge and half a jar of pesto which needed using; and so our Asparagus, Goats' Cheese & Pesto tartlets were born.
They were really easy to make once the pastry was out of the way (though pastry truly isn't difficult). Have a look at my Guide to making ...Pastry if you fancy having a go. I love making our own pastry, yes it takes a little while to do it properly when taking into account the resting and rolling out time; but at the end of the day you know exactly what's gone into it. Plus home made pastry is the fraction of the cost of the shop bought ready made stuff; the quantity here only cost Mr E & I about 25p using store cupboard ingredients! Shop bought pastry is great, and I do use it from time to time, but I always think home made is best! So, if you've always shied away from making pastry, give it a go and try your own. Follow the pointers and you'll wonder why you'd not taken the leap before!
PS, Do remember to turn the oven down a fraction after blind baking the pastry! I can't even follow my own notes! ;-) I totally forgot, only realising when I came to rotate the tartlets part-way through the bake; the excess heat 'catching' the filling slightly! Though they were still terribly yummy.
|Finding the natural break of asparagus|
Asparagus, Goats' Cheese & Pesto Tartlets Yum
Cost: about £3.99, that £1.00 per tartlet.
Time: about 1 hour 10 minutes, including making the pastry.
You will need:
4 x 11cm loose bottomed tartlet tins
For the Pastry:
Pack of shop bought short-crust pastry
80g Flour (we used 40g Wholemeal & 40g White)
40g Unsalted Butter, chilled
For the Filling:
13 or 14 Asparagus spears
2 small eggs, beaten
150g crème fraiche
1 tsp dried basil (or fresh)
approx. 85g soft goats' cheese, crumbled
20g mature cheddar, grated
salt & pepper
2 tsp Pesto
How to make them:
1. Make the Short Crust Pastry, Have a look at my 'Guide to making .....Pastry' should you need any pointers. Wrap the pastry dough in cling film and chill for 15 minutes.
2. Meanwhile prepare the asparagus. Trim the asparagus by bending it to find it's natural breaking point. Discard the woody stems. Wash the spears, then steam them for 2 - 3 minutes (or boil them). Remove from the steamer / pan and set aside.
3. Make the filling. Place the beaten eggs and crème fraiche into a good sized bowl and mix well. Add the crumbled goats' cheese, basil, and seasoning. Mix until relatively smooth. Add the grated cheddar cheese. Mix again.
4. Preheat the oven to 200c / Fan 190 / Gas 6. Place a tray, that is large enough to fit the 4 tartlets comfortably, in the oven to be warming.
5. Remove the pastry from the fridge. Cut into 4 equal pieces. Onto a well floured work surface, roll out 1 piece of pastry and line a tartlet case. Repeat with the remaining 3 cases. Trim the excess pastry from the cases. Should you need any additional pointers, have a look at my 'Guide to making ....Pastry'.
6. Lightly 'jab' the raw pastry base with a fork. Line each tartlet case with baking paper and weigh down with 'baking beans'. Place on the warmed baking tray and bake blind in the oven for 11 minutes. Remove the 'baking beans' and greaseproof paper. Rotate the tray and bake for a further 4 minutes. Remove the tray from the oven.
7. Reduce the oven temperature to 190c / Fan 170 / Gas 5.
8. From the steamed asparagus, set aside 12 spears. Thinly slice the remaining asparagus. From the 12 spears that have been set aside, take a few slices from each stem, making each spear short enough to fit into the tartlet cases. Place all the sliced discs into the filling and mix.
9. Place half a teaspoon of pesto onto the base of each tartlet case and spread it out with the back of the teaspoon. Lay 3 asparagus spears into each tartlet. Using a ladle, or similar, fill each tartlet case with the filling, trying to ensure it doesn't get down the back of the pastry.
10. Place the tray containing the filled tartlets back into the oven and bake for 20-23 minutes. You may need to rotate the baking tray after 15 minutes of cooking.
11. To remove from the tart from a loose bottomed case: simply place the cased tartlet on a cup and very gently allow the frame of the case to fall away. You may need to gently tease it away with a paring knife or similar. Use a fish slice placed between the pastry bottom and the base of the tartlet case to lift the tart and transfer to the plate.