Springtime Vegetable Tart with Peas, Asparagus, and Basil

April 9th, 2008  |  Published in All, Asparagus, Basil, Honorable Herbs, Peas & Pea Shoots, Veritable Vegetables, Weeknight Recipes  |  8 Comments

Spring Vegetable Tart

Springtime Vegetable Tart with Peas, Asparagus, and Basil

1 frozen all-natural Puff Pastry shell (I used a single 14 oz sheet from Dufour Pastry Kitchen ; alternatively you could use half a 17 oz package, just rolled more thinly)
1 cup fresh peas, shelled (or more if you have lots of peas on hand)
Olive Oil
~8 medium asparagus spears, cut in half vertically and sliced diagonally into 2 inch pieces
2 green onions, thinly sliced (including dark green parts)
~1 cup good quality ricotta or fromage blanc
1/2 c. crumbled feta or grated hard salty cheese (i.e. parmesan, gruyere, or manchego)
2 T crumbled bacon (optional)
1/2 c. fresh basil, slivered or chopped
Salt & Pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Thaw puff pastry shell according to package directions. Roll out to approximately 12 x 14 inches. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and place crust on prepared pan, turning up the outer edges to form a crust. The crust might hang over the edges — this is ok. Poke a few holes in the pastry shell with a knife or fork. Bake for 12 minutes, remove from oven, and let cool for 10-15 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat about 1 cup of water in a small skillet and cover. When water is boiling, add peas and boil for about 5-7 minutes or until no longer mealy tasting. Drain and reserve. Reheat skillet and add about 1T olive oil. Add green onions and asparagus and saute for 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat and add peas and salt and pepper to taste.

When puff pastry shell has cooled, gently spread ricotta evenly over shell. Top with pea and asparagus mixture. Sprinkle with feta and bacon (if using). Bake tart for 20 minutes, until crust is nicely golden brown. Remove from oven, sprinkle with fresh basil, and serve. Enjoy!

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Today’s recipe is a fantastic manifestation of the idea, ‘what grows together, goes together’. In these early days of spring, ‘bright green’ seems to be the theme — bright green shelling peas are exploding in my garden, bright green asparagus spears are widely available at the farmer’s market, and my bright green basil plant that dutifully weathered the winter is starting to perk up and produce more and more leaves. What better way to celebrate these early days of spring than a delicious and simple springtime tart?

Until recently, I had always avoided frozen pastry products due to their high concentration of un-pronounable, artificial ingredients. However, my local natural foods store recently started carrying high quality frozen puff pasty shells made by Dufour Pastry Kitchen in NYC with an incredibly short ingredient list — butter, flour, water, salt, & lemon juice — no un-pronouncables in a frozen product?! I approve! Anyways, these pastry shells are delicious, and just beg to be made into simple savory tarts. With minimal effort, one can create an elegant, healthful, seasonal dinner with only a few minutes of effort.

Tarts are highly adaptable and are a great canvas for experimentation (much like gratins). They adapt well to the different seasons and basically taste good as long as you use good ingredients. Besides the above combination of peas, asparagus, and basil, some other springtime combinations you might try are:

– peas, mint, and lemon zest
– broccoli, red onion, feta, and black pepper
– asparagus, scallions, and chives
– roasted squash cubes, shallots, and rosemary or sage (fall too)
– sauteed cooking greens (dandelion, collards, kale, turnip greens, etc), slivered almonds, diced ham, and diced canned tomatoes (or fresh if they’re in season in your area)
– sliced cooked potatoes, caramelized onions, pine nuts, and sage

Come summer, tarts with fresh tomatoes, red onions, and cured black olives are an all-time favorite around here.

If you have other ideas for tart toppings, I’d love to hear them!

Besides being easy, tarts are a dinner favorite because they are light but filling — tonight I served this alongside a hearty slice of leftover skillet roasted celeraic with potatoes, fresh celery, and olives (recipe to follow soon), and a glass of dry white wine for a light springtime dinner. Delicious!

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