This season offers so many delightful ingredients that are fun to bake with, especially asparagus. I like to use store-bought puff pastry for a quick canvas to create flavorful springtime treats. Asparagus is available in California starting now, all the way through summer, but there is something extra special about spring asparagus – the flavors are brighter and the plump stalks are much more tender.
Choosing asparagus is always a fun experience. I try to pick medium-sized stalks because if they are too skinny, they don’t hold up as nicely during baking, and if they are too thick, they won’t soften enough in the oven. This sounds much more complicated than it really is – just grab your favorite bundle.
In this recipe, I use a mixture of Gorgonzola (Italian blue cheese), and heavy cream to make the base of the tart, and fill it in with asparagus stalks. The beautiful presentation will impress your friends and you can serve this tart warm, right out of the oven, or room temperature. This Asparagus & Gorgonzola Cream Tart makes a great appetizer with a glass of sparkling wine, or serve it on a buffet with salads for a wedding or baby shower.
4 ounces Gorgonzola (blue cheese)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 puff pastry, thawed, but cold (freezer section of grocery store)
1 bunch asparagus
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1. Crumble Gorgonzola into pieces. In a small saucepan , heat heavy cream until simmering, about 2 minutes, then add Gorgonzola and whisk until smooth. Remove cream from heat and pour into a bowl. Place bowl in refrigerator to chill for at least 1 hour – cream will thicken as it cools.
2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees, wash and dry asparagus. Cut 1/2 inch off base of each stalk, then slice each stalk in half lengthwise. If your asparagus are thin, don’t slice in half. Remove puff pastry from any packaging and place dough on a silpat or parchment lined baking sheet. If your dough is round or square, instead of rectangle – you may need to trim asparagus to fit.
3. Score dough around perimeter with a paring knife, about 1 inch wide. Do not cut all the way through dough. Remove Gorgonzola Cream from refrigerator, stir to loosen.
4. Dollop cream on top of pastry. Spread out cream inside scored edge, until smooth.
5. Place asparagus spears on top of the cream, alternating between tip and end. Drizzle asparagus with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Sprinkle asparagus with 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper and parmesan cheese. Place in oven to bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the edges are raised and dark golden brown.
6. Remove tart from oven and let it cool on the sheet pan for 15 minutes. Using 2 spatulas, gently lift tart onto a cutting board. Slice tart into squares. Serve and enjoy!