Asparagus & Cheese Tart

I have a love/hate relationship with puff pastry. I love to eat it, but I hate trying to bake with it. I either don’t thaw it out enough and it’s too stiff to roll out, and I thaw it out too much and it’s mush. That’s what happened last night. The two sheets of pastry that you get in the box kind of blended into each other (I did get that divider piece of paper out, though!). That why, in the pic, you see a weird odd piece sticking out- that’s because I had to do a lot of patching and mending holes. SIGH. But, it still tastes the same, and this was good! I did make two substitutions: I couldn’t find vegetarian fontina cheese, so I used smoked Provolone. I am not sure if that was anything like fontina or not, but it actually tasted good on the tart, so…And then I used half-and-half in place of the whole milk. I happened to have some on hand that needed to get used up. These wasn’t too hard to pull together, and the end result is really kind of fabulous and impressive. Liam didn’t like his “pizza”, but Toby ate two big pieces.

rating: 8.9

Asparagus & Cheese Tart
(Food Network Magazine, April 2012)

active time: 20 min.
total time needed: 50 min.
serves: 6

Ingredients:

1 pound asparagus, trimmed
1 sheet frozen puff pastry (about 1/2 pound), thawed
all-purpose flour, for dusting
1 cup grated fontina cheese (about 3 ounces) (I used grated smoked provolone)
1 cup grated comte or gruyere cheese (about 3 ounces)
1 tablespoon minced shallot
2 large egg yolks
3 tablespoons whole milk (I used half-and-half)
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

Directions:

Fill a large bowl with ice water. Bring about 1 inch of water to a boil in a large skillet. Add the asparagus; cook until bright green and crisp-tender, 2 to 5 minutes, depending on the thickness of the asparagus. Drain and transfer to the ice water to stop the cooking; drain and pat dry. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Roll out the puff pastry into a 10-by-16-inch rectangle on a floured surface. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet and prick all over with a fork. Bake until light golden brown, about 12 minutes. Let cool slightly on the baking sheet.

Meanwhile, mix the fontina, comte, shallot, egg yolks, milk, nutmeg and a pinch each of salt and pepper in a bowl until combined. Spread the cheese mixture evenly over the puff pastry, leaving a 1-inch border on all sides. Toss the asparagus with the olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste. Arrange the asparagus on the tart and bake until the cheese mixture is slightly puffy, 15 to 20 minutes. Sprinkle with the lemon zest. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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