There are two things I didn't realize until I went to type up this post. 1. I haven't posted since last month's Improv Challenge. Oops! It's been a long time since I went a whole month without posting. But Lent/Holy Week/Easter is a super busy time of year for pastors' families and time just got away from me. 2. I missed my blogiversary. :( Whoops. March 29th was the 8th anniversary of my blog. No fanfare this year! Maybe I will remember next year.
So onto this month's Improv Challenge. The premise of the Improv Challenge is easy: each month there are two assigned ingredients. The participants must make a recipe using both ingredients and blog about it.
This month's assigned ingredients were asparagus and egg. Lovely spring ingredients. I love asparagus, but I rarely experiment with it. I have seen lots of yummy-looking asparagus recipes, but I love it so much just simply roasted with olive oil and kosher salt, that I have never strayed too much from that. I did make a new asparagus dish for Easter, though. The asparagus was wrapped in herbed goat cheese and prosciutto. It was really good and kind of fancier for a special occasion. But since it didn't involve eggs, I couldn't use it for Improv. I did a Google image search for "asparagus and egg" and wanted to try every single dish I saw! Oh man, there are so many yummy things you can do with asparagus and eggs. I almost went with a dish that involved polenta, bacon, asparagus, and a poached egg on top. I still want to make that, but decided to go with something a little simpler. I have had this recipe from Food Network Magazine pinned for like 2 years. I had two firsts in making it: I had never made a savory tart before (maybe not even a sweet one at that), and I had never used puff pastry before. Even so, it seemed like an easy recipe with big "wow" factor; right up my alley!
Asparagus Cheese Tart
½ - 1 lb. asparagus, trimmed
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
Flour, for dusting
2 egg yolks
3 tbsp milk
1 cup grated smoked gouda (3 oz.)
1 cup grated comte (3 oz.)
½ tsp Fox Point Seasoning or shallot salt
Preheat oven to 400°.
Put asparagus on a baking sheet and lightly coat with olive oil. Sprinkle with a little kosher salt. Roast in preheated oven for 10-12 minutes. Remove and set aside.
Meanwhile, sprinkle a small amount of flour on a cutting board. Roll puff pastry into a 10x15” rectangle. Sprinkle a little more flour on a baking sheet and carefully transfer the puff pastry to the baking sheet. Prick several times with a fork. When the asparagus is done, put puff pastry in the oven and bake for 12 minutes. Remove and let cool slightly.
In a medium mixing bowl, combine the egg yolks, milk, cheeses, and seasoning. When puff pastry has cooled slightly, spread the cheese mixture out on to it, leaving a 1” border. Arrange the asparagus spears on top of the cheese mixture, as many as you can fit on there. Return to oven and bake for another 15 minutes or until puff pastry is puffed and golden.
Cut into pieces using a sharp pizza cutter.
Makes 8 servings.
The puff pastry after rolling out. I didn't do a perfect job of rolling it out, so one edge was a little "rustic". Rolling things out is not my forte. I used my stoneware for baking. You can put parchment underneath the dough if you are worried about it sticking, but mine was fine with a little flour.
After pre-baking for 12 minutes.
These are the cheeses I used. I had never even heard of Comte, let alone cooked with it before. I was going to use something else instead, but then I just happened to see it at Trader Joe's when we were there over Spring Break. It's a harder cheese like Parmesan. I used my Microplane to grate it, while I used my box grater on the smoked gouda. If you don't have Fox Point, you can use shallot salt, or fresh minced shallots and some salt. I was going to use fresh shallots, but I forgot I was out. So the Fox Point was the next best thing. I love the little bits of green flecks it created in the finished product.
I looks like scrambled eggs, I know. But it's the cheese mixture.
I forgot to get one after I laid the asparagus on there. The original recipe called for a whole pound of it, but I only used about half. My asparagus stalks were super skinny, so there were lots of them in that pound. I could have squeezed some more in, but I was happy with it the way it was. Use as much as you like.
I thought it was very pretty coming out of the oven. One of those "looks harder than it really is" kind of dishes.
I cut it into 8 squares.
This is so yummy! The cheeses blend together really well and are just perfect. You can use different cheeses of course. The original recipe also suggested fontina and gruyere.
I know that the egg wasn't really prominent in this dish, but it played a very important role and I'm glad I picked this recipe for Improv this month. I would have loved to have shared this in time for Easter, but I guess you'll have to hold on it until next Easter. :)
Be sure to check out all the other great asparagus and egg recipes below and come back next month to see what I make with cilantro and lime.