We are well into asparagus season now and I was scrolling through these recipes from Ottolenghi for inspiration. I spotted the tart and thought about the tart I like to make myself. It was only then I realised that I have never published it here! The reason for that is probably because it is so easy, you don’t even really need a recipe. Nevertheless, I thought it was time to share it.
This recipe started out life as this Asparagus, New Potato and Egg Tart from Bill Granger. It gradually evolved and now at this time of year I like to make this Asparagus Cheese and Ham Tart. It makes a quick, simple but delicious lunch or light meal.
Useful tips & links:
- I never make my own puff pastry, I just don’t have the time or patience for it. All I would say is buy the best quality pastry you can get.
- I cook the asparagus by allowing it to sit in boiling water for a while. It is a method I saw Sabrina Ghayour use on TV a few years ago. It never fails for me, the asparagus doesn’t overcook and stays a vibrant green colour.
- As per Bill Granger’s recipe you can use crème fraiche instead of ricotta if you don’t have it. I like gruyere in this as I do in all of these types of tarts as it has a wonderful nutty sweet flavour.
- I like to heat the Parma ham slightly here but feel free to arrange it on top after cooking. Smoked prosciutto would be a good alternative or thin slices of smoked pancetta.
- Aleppo Pepper is a mild, slightly sweet and smokey chilli flake. It is not too easy to find here, I buy mine online. If you need an alternative, mix a little sweet paprika, cayenne pepper and salt to use instead.
- If you want to make a vegetarian version, leave off the ham and use alternative suitable cheese – Parmesan and gruyere are not vegetarian.
- Have a look at Katia’s gorgeous Wild Asparagus and Aged Cheddar Tart which I believe is vegetarian.
- If you want to make the most of asparagus season, have a look at my other recipes using this wonderful ingredient. My particular favourite is the Asparagus with Crispy Egg and Pancetta.
Asparagus Cheese and Ham Tart
- 300g of asparagus spears
- 320g of all butter puff pastry
- 150g of ricotta cheese
- 1 egg plus 1 egg yolk
- 50g of sundried tomatoes, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon of lemon zest
- 50g of gruyere cheese, grated
- 75g of Parma ham
- Parmesan cheese
- Aleppo Pepper or Pul Biber
- Boil a kettle of water and preheat the oven to 200c/180c fan/gas mark 6.
- Line a large baking tray with parchment paper and lay the sheet of puff pastry out on it.
- Prep the asparagus by breaking off the tough woody ends and discarding them. Place the tips in a shallow bowl and cover them with boiling water. Allow them to sit in the water while you prep the rest of the tart.
- Mix together the ricotta cheese, an egg, some pepper, the sundried tomatoes, lemon zest and gruyere cheese in a bowl until well combined. You shouldn’t need any salt as the cheese and ham are salty.
- Use a sharp knife to score a border in the pastry approx. 1½ cm in from the edge. Gently pierce the inside of the rectangle to prevent the pastry rising too much during baking. Mix the egg yolk with a splash of water and use this to ‘wash’ the outside border of the pastry to glaze it.
- Spread the ricotta mixture in an even layer on the pastry inside the border.
- Drain the asparagus spears and arrange them on top of the cheese mixture.
- Bake the tart for approximately 20 minutes until the pastry is golden and almost fully cooked. Arrange the Parma ham on top of the asparagus and return the tart to the oven for a few minutes to finish cooking.
- When fully baked, allow to cool slightly on the baking tray. Grate over a little Parmesan Cheese and some Aleppo Pepper flakes before serving.