The time is right to make this terrific recipe right now.
This is a fantastic tart. And it’s right of the moment because it works best with Spring’s earliest and thin-stalk Asparagus. We used both Green and Red Asparagus in ours. And then there’s the ease of making it. It’s store-bought Puff Pastry cuts down the time it takes to make to under an hour and that’s with 25 minutes in the oven and a 15 minute cool down. It’s perfect for a light lunch with a glass of Rosé. And it’s an ideal starter or side dish. We loved serving it as a grand hors d’oeuvre to two friends who came by for socially distant cocktails last night. No small bites here, so we all felt safer enjoying every wonderful bite of our generous individual squares. No surprise here, it’s from Melissa Clark whose recipes are standbys in our house.
Melissa Clark hits another one out of the Ball Park.
Melissa Clark writes for the New York Times. Brooklyn-born and raised, Melissa graduated from Columbia University with a Master’s Degree in Writing. An abiding interest in food led her to brief restaurant cooking. To support her early food-writing career, she then catered out of her 5th-floor walk-up. She landed at The New York Times where she writes “A Good Appetite” and “Cook This Now”. This recipe certainly fits the bill for the latter. But it’s actually from Melissa’s latest cookbook “Dinner in French: My recipes by way of France” (Clarkson Potter 2020). As you can see, today’s Asparagus Tart is its cover shot. Our copy of the book is en route. It’s described thus: “Melissa Clark breaks down the new French classics with 150 recipes that reflect a modern, yet distinctly French sensibility”.
How to make this Tart at its buttery best.
Melissa made a plea to use the All-Butter brand Puff pastry. Most commercial puff pastry is made with cooking oil. We used the familiar Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry which is. It did not seem to affect the end result. Although you can’t help wondering how much better the All-Butter may have been. But we are in the middle of a period when we make do. The results here are hardly making do—this tart is not just visually stunning, it’s a real treat. The crisp puff pastry layered with Crème Fraiche, Goat Cheese, Tarragon, and then topped with Asparagus and Parmesan is a perfect combination. If you are not a Goat Cheese fan, you might want to try this with Boursin. And if you don’t love Tarragon, Melissa Clark would recommend Chives, Basil or Mint. By the way, we used Honey Goat Cheese. We love the way honey mellows the goat cheese. Served within an hour of coming out of the oven, it’s at its buttery best. Here is the recipe and after it, some other Melissa Clark favorites:
Melissa Clark's Asparagus, Goat Cheese and Tarragon Tart
Store-bought Puff Pastry topped with Goat Cheese, Creme Fraiche and Tarragon is a perfect bed for the first Asparagus of the season.
- 1 cup goat cheese, at room temperature (4 ounces)
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten, at room temperature
- 1 large garlic clove, finely grated or minced
- 1 ½ tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon leaves, plus more for serving
- ½ tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more for sprinkling
- Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 cup crème fraîche, at room temperature (8 ounces)
- All-purpose flour, for dusting the work surface
- 1 sheet or square all-butter puff pastry, thawed if frozen (about 9 to 14 ounces
- brands vary)
- 8 ounces thin asparagus, woody ends trimmed
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Red-pepper flakes (optional)
- 1 ½ ounces Parmesan, shaved with a vegetable peeler (about 1/2 cup)
- Step 1 Heat oven to 425 degrees. In a medium bowl, use a fork or a wooden spoon to mash together the goat cheese, egg, garlic, tarragon, lemon zest, salt, and nutmeg until smooth. Switch to a whisk and beat in the crème fraîche until smooth.
- Step 2 On a lightly floured surface, roll out puff pastry into a 13-by-11-inch rectangle about 1/8-inch thick. Transfer the dough to a parchment-lined cookie sheet. With a sharp knife, lightly score a 1/2-inch border around the edges of the puff pastry.
- Step 3 Spread the crème fraîche mixture evenly inside the scored border. Line up the asparagus spears on a baking sheet, and brush them with olive oil. Then line them up atop the Goat Cheese Mixture. Sprinkle some salt and the grated Parmesan over the asparagus.
- Step 4 Bake until the pastry is puffed and golden, 25 to 30 minutes. Let it cool on the cookie sheet for at least 15 minutes or up to 4 hours before serving. Then sprinkle black pepper, red pepper flakes (if using), the shaved Parmesan and tarragon leaves. Drizzle a little oil on top.
- Step 5 You can assemble the tart 1 day in advance, but reserve the sprinkling of salt and grated Parmesan until right before baking. Loosely cover the tart and store it in the refrigerator until it’s time to bake.