I shouldn’t complain about the lack of beautiful spring
weather we’ve been having here in Toronto, since I’ve spent the
last few months enjoying the summer sunshine in South Africa. Geez,
guys I’m still wearing my wool winter coat and it’s May, but on
the plus side the sun is starting to shine, the trees are budding
and blooming at full speed now. Toronto we are close, I can feel
In anticipation of summer (as we seem to skip right over spring)
I find myself craving light, fresh and simple meals. At this time
of year newly harvested veggies are full of flavour and herbs speak
for themselves; focusing on simplicity and letting the few
ingredients do all the talking
Like this pea and asparagus tart!
I love pairing crisp, buttery, puff pastry with fresh veggies.
Puff pastry is so versatile but sometimes gets stuck in the sweet
category. As a kid my mom use to fill puff pastry cups with tuna
salad and it was one of my favourite meals. Dinner somehow felt
like a treat when puff pastry was involved.
You can serve this pea and asparagus tart as an appetizer to
friends or as a social meal (at our house we call it a picky
plate), perhaps paired with a spring soup and maybe a charcuterie
board of cured meats?! Now that sounds like a perfect backyard or
cottage dinner to me! Who wants to join?
Okay lets talk about this tart. First step and always the first
step to remember when baking a large tart with puff pastry; bake
the puff pastry on it’s own before you start adding yummy
toppings. This is a mistake that seems to happen a lot but you
need those super light buttery layers to puff right up. If you add
all your toppings before it’s baked you won’t get those layers
and your tart won’t be fully baked through.
Now that we have the base, next comes the filling – a mixture
of leeks, parsley, garlic and lemon juice chopped together creating
a little zing to top the flaky pastry. After the filling is made
you alternate the leek mixture with smooth ricotta cheese for a
light softness and mild flavour which lets the herbs and veggies
be the focal point. Now you lay the charred asparagus and peas on
top, adding fresh parsley and drizzle with a little more lemon to
finish it off. Now doesn’t that sound like the perfect spring
Let’s not forget just how stylish-chic this pea and asparagus
tart looks but with little effort. It’s the optimal show stopper
to impress and as pretty as it looks, it tastes even better!
- 320g all-butter puff pastry (one
- 1-2 Tablespoons milk, for brushing the
- 1 bunch asparagus, woody ends
- 1 large leek, sliced (white and light
green part only)
- ¼ cup peas
- 1 garlic clove
- Bunch of fresh parsley, stems trimmed
- ½ of a fresh lemon
- salt and pepper to taste
- ½ cup smooth ricotta cheese,
- Preheat oven to 400˚F. Unroll
the puff pastry onto a large baking sheet or onto parchment paper
and using a rolling pin roll out into a large rectangle aprprox. 8″
x 10″. Using the tip of a sharp knife, score a rectangle into the
pastry, leaving a 1″ border. Brush the puff pastry with milk and
bake in the centre of an oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown
and pastry has puffed up. Set the pastry base aside.
- Meanwhile, bring a pot of water
to boil and cook the asparagus and leeks together for 3 minutes
(just until they are starting to cook through). Remove asparagus
and leeks with a slotted spoon and cool under cold running water,
then pat dry. Keep the pot of water boiling and add peas, cook for
2-3 minutes until they float to the surface. Drain and run cold
water over peas, pat dry and set aside.
- To make the filling, add cooked
leeks to a food processor, a handful of fresh parsley (approx. ¼
cup) 1 medium to large garlic clove and pulse to chop. Add fresh
lemon juice (approx. 1 Tablespoon) and salt and pepper to taste.
You don’t want the filling to be completely pureed, just chopped
making sure there are no large garlic pieces.
- Heat a griddle pan or bbq until
hot, then add a little oil and char the asparagus for approx. 3 – 5
minutes until the asparagus has sear marks all over. Remove from
- To assemble the tart, use your
hands to push the middle rectangle of the pastry down, leaving the
raised border. Spoon chunks of ricotta and leek filling over the
bottom. Top with the charred asparagus and peas. Add a few more
dollops of ricotta then garnish with parsley leaves, pepper and a
squeeze of lemon juice.
- Enjoy immediately.
You can make the puff pastry a day or two ahead and when ready add
toppings to enjoy. Store baked puff pastry in an air tight
container at room temperature.