I first saw this recipe in Jamie Oliver's cookbook, Jamie at Home, and instantly fell in love with it. I've been waiting for asparagus to come into season to try out this scrumptious tart.
If you tend to steer clear of tarts because you feel don't have the time or inclination to prepare a shell, you'll be glad to know that this tart doesn't have one. Instead of a traditional tart shell made of French pastry dough, this one uses fillo dough, which can be found in the frozen food section of any grocery store. The fillo creates a delicate buttery, flaky, and crunchy crust. It takes a little patience to layer the filo sheets and brush them with butter, but the good news is, you don't have to be perfect, and it takes half the time of making the dough yourself. In fact, that's one of the great things about this tart. It's rustic and imperfect and a great basic recipe to play around with. You can add all sorts of things to the potato and cheese base. I've adapted the original recipe a bit and added some garlic and caramelized onions. The onions give such a fantastic depth of flavor to this hearty, potato based tart.
This is a great dish to serve to a few brunch guests, or just for two. It reheats nicely, so Aaron and I had this for breakfast and/or lunch over the course of a couple of days. Accompanied by a simple side of greens dressed in oil and balsamic, and you've got a meal made.
ASPARAGUS & POTATO TART
Adapted from Jamie Oliver, Jamie at Home
1 to 2 tbsp. olive oil
1 large yellow onion, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 lb. Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
1 lb. asparagus, woody ends removed
8 oz. fillo pastry dough, thawed
1/2 c. butter, melted
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
1/2 sharp white cheddar cheese
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
8 oz. heavy cream
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg (freshly grated if you have it)
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large saute pan. When the oil is glistening and hot, add the sliced onions and stir to evenly coat them in the oil. Saute the onions slowly, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. After a few minutes, add a bit of salt and adjust the heat if they are browning too quickly. If the onions seem to be drying out, add a tablespoon of water or a little more oil and stir, scraping up any brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Continue to cook until the onions are a deep brown color, about 20 to 30 minutes. Add the garlic in the last minute of cooking, and stir to combine. Set onions aside.
While the onions are cooking, place the potatoes in a medium sized pot of boiling salted water and cook for 15 minutes or until cooked through. When the potatoes are done, transfer them to a colander, using a spider or slotted spoon, to drain and cool. Blanch the asparagus in the same water that you used for the potatoes, about 3 minutes. Immediately remove from the water and place in an ice bath to stop them from cooking.
Begin layering the fillo pastry dough in a greased 9x13 inch oven-proof baking dish. Layer the sheets of fillo pastry in the dish, brushing each layer with melted butter as you go, letting about 1-inch hang over the edge. You want about 8 to 10 layers of fillo pastry. Place a couple of damp paper towels or a clean damp tea towel over the dough to keep from drying out and set aside.
When the potatoes are done, mash them together with the cheeses in a medium sized bowl. In another small bowl, mix together the eggs and cream and stir into the cheesy potato mixture. Add the nutmeg and caramelized onions and stir. Taste to adjust seasonings (this is where you want to add plenty of salt and pepper to taste). Spread the potato base mixture evenly over the fillo pastry shell. Fold in the sides of the fillo pastry and scrunch it together to form a crust around the edge of the potato filling. Evenly lay the asparagus over the filling, gently pressing them down. Brush the edges of the crust with the remaining butter and place in the preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden and crisp. Allow to rest for 10 minutes before cutting.
Yield: About 6 servings