Delia

Asparagus and Cheese Tart

Just to make the very most of the English asparagus during its very short season, I cook it every which way, hence this very simple but sublime tart.


Serves 6

This recipe comes from The Complete Cookery Course

Asparagus and Cheese Tart
Ingredients
 12 oz (350 g) asparagus
 1½ oz (40 g) Cheddar cheese, finely grated
 1 level tablespoon freshly grated Parmesan (Parmigiano Reggiano)
 2 large eggs, beaten
 284 ml carton single cream
 salt and freshly milled black pepper
For the pastry:
 1 oz (25 g) butter
 1 oz (25 g) lard
 4 oz (110 g) plain flour
 1 oz (25 g) Cheddar cheese, finely grated
 a pinch of salt
  Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 4, 350°F (180°C). Put the baking sheet in the oven to heat up
Equipment

You will also need a 7½ inch (19 cm) flan tin with fluted edges and a removable base, lightly greased, and a 10 x 12 inch (25.5 x 30 cm) solid baking sheet.

Method

First, make the pastry by rubbing the butter and lard lightly into the flour, then add the cheese and salt, plus enough cold water to make a smooth dough – about a tablespoon. Then place the dough in a plastic food bag to rest in the fridge for 20 minutes. After that, roll it out and line the tin with it. Be careful to press the dough firmly into the tin.

Prick the base all over with a fork, then pre-bake in the oven for 20 minutes.

After that, paint the inside of it with a little of the beaten egg (from the filling ingredients) and let it cook in the oven for a further 5 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the asparagus. Take each stalk in both hands and bend and snap off the woody end, then arrange the spears in a steamer and steam over simmering water for 4-5 minutes (just to half-cook them).

Then chop the spears into 1½ inch (4 cm) lengths and arrange them over the base of the pre-baked pastry case.

Next, beat the eggs together with the cream and grated Cheddar cheese and season with salt and pepper, then pour this mixture over the asparagus. Finally, sprinkle the Parmesan over the top.

Place the tart on the baking sheet in the oven and cook for 30-40 minutes – until the centre feels firm and the filling is golden brown and puffy.

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