Asparagus & Bacon Tart

Oh hi. It’s been a minute since I’ve been around. I got sucked into the holiday vortex of shopping, eating, drinking and more eating and drinking. Whoops.

But alas it’s January. While I’m not one for New Year’s resolutions, I have been on an organizing and purging kick. Boot that has had a broken zipper since August? Went to the cobbler. Box of binders from a job I left 7 years ago? Recycling bin.

The clean and purge has extended to the kitchen as well.  Not one to throw away food – things have been getting a second life around here. Mealy apples that have been languishing in the crisper since October? Made applesauce. Three cans of unsalted beans I bought for a recipe 2 years ago? Made into soup (with plenty of seasoning).

So as I was going through the freezer and came upon a bag of frozen asparagus spears and half opened package of puff pastry, I knew they were destined for something new and delightful.

img_3059I love asparagus, fresh, in the spring. The earthy vegetal taste. The snappy stems. What I do NOT like is stringy asparagus and limp florets which is basically all frozen asparagus. So why I bought this bag of spears, I have no idea. Hence the reason it had been in the freezer since the Paleozoic era.

But…this recipe is actually kind of perfect for January. We’ve been having a January thaw here in Cincinnati – temps in the 50s and mild. Makes you itch for spring. So this tart is a perfect little spring tease without having to buy asparagus from the other side of the world. We’re loading this up with bacon (duh), tons of black pepper and lemon zest so it’s bright and zippy. Several of the recipes I perused for inspo called for quite a bit of cheese. Hmmm, I decided to let the roasted asparagus, crisp bacon and puffy golden pastry do the talking so this recipe has just enough filling to hold it together. I used cream cheese, as that’s what I had on hand (see: kitchen purge) but ricotta or even cottage cheese would be perfect too. And yeah, you could go bonkers and add parmesan cheese all over the thing. You might have parmesan cheese to use up. I get it.

Asparagus & Bacon Tart
Adapted from here
Prep: 25 min Bake: 25 min  ~ Serves: 6 as a side 

1 sheet puff pastry ( frozen, then thawed)
1 egg
1 pkg  (10oz) asparagus spears (frozen, then thawed**)
2 tbs olive oil
6 slices bacon (cooked* and diced)
Sea salt
Black pepper
*In a 400 degree oven, bake bacon in a single layer on a tin foil lined baking sheet.
Bake 8 minutes, flip and bake another 2 minutes or until crisp. Blot on paper towels before dicing.
**You most likely will have extra asparagus spears. I roasted the extra on a separate baking sheet and served it alongside the tart.

4oz cream cheese (or ricotta/cottage cheese)
2 Tbs grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
2 tbs lemon zest (approx 1/2 lemon)
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

Pre-heat oven to 400. Line baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat. Roll out pastry on parchment and gently shape to fill the baking sheet (mine was 10″x 15″).
Score a 1″ border around the pastry to create a rectangle in the center. Use a fork to press the edges all the way around. Then prick the pastry all over with a fork. In a small bowl, separate yolk and white. Save the white for another use. Whisk yolk thoroughly with 1 tbs water. Brush entire pastry with egg wash. Save remaining egg wash. Bake shell for 10 minutes. Remove from oven. Gently tamp down pastry with a fork if it has bubbled up.

(making good use of an extra egg white and bacon) 

In a large bowl toss asparagus spears with olive oil, salt and pepper to taste, roughly 1/2 tsp each to start, set aside. In a food processor, add remaining egg wash, cream cheese, garlic powder, (parmesan cheese if using) sea salt, black pepper and lemon zest. Blend until smooth. Scrape down the sides and blend again. Smooth the cheese filling over the rectangle of puff pastry, leaving the crimped edges exposed. Sprinkle bacon over the cheese. Line the asparagus spears in 2 rows over the cheese and bacon. Bake tart for 10 minutes. Check tart: pastry should be golden brown and filling should be baked firm. From here you may need another 2 – 5 minutes so watch your pastry. If it has browned too quickly, you can  cover the edges with tin foil and continue to bake. Allow to cool for several minutes before slicing. Serves 6 as a side.Servings suggestions: Drizzle with balsamic vinegar.  Top with shaved Parmesan cheese.Serve with a friend egg or a light salad. 




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