Easter may someday usurp Thanksgiving’s reign as my favorite holiday. It’s easy and breezy, especially when the temperature hits an unheard of 70 degrees in New England and the sun manages to peer through the thin clouds, making for a gorgeous day. Thanksgiving is cold and sometimes snowy and always requires up to a week of planning, sourcing and cooking. Easter requires just a little light prep work.
I could do Easter every month, except for all that chocolate. Someone please hide all that chocolate from me.
For my Easter lunch, I had already planned a fairly straightforward menu inspired by the spring Canal House Cookbook. The minimal effort was really worth it and so well-received. The standouts were the homemade fish cakes made with local flounder, the preserved lemon and black pepper salad dressing on the greens, the meringues with wine-soaked rhubarb and this easy asparagus tart.
My family is still sitting around me, in their own wine-soaked daze, waiting on some grilled pizzas loaded with leftovers for a late day snack. And I’ve snuck away to share this recipe…
This is the recipe you should always have in your back pocket. You’re going to want to have some puff pastry dough on hand at all times, as it plays perfectly with any vegetable for any sort of meal.
When friends pop over for summer cocktails, I thaw the dough and pop some sliced garden tomatoes on top. I’ve served a thin slice loaded with some blanched rainbow chard with a salad for lunch. And as soon as I discover some local fiddlehead ferns, they will definitely be lightly sauteed and neatly arranged on some pastry dough.
This tart is only limited by two things: your imagination and the fact that while it’s pretty at a glance, it’s not not messy. Slice it gently or watch asparagus fly…
Also, be mindful of the thickness of your chosen vegetable. The thicker it is, the more necessary it is to pre-cook it before arranging it on the dough. I never pre-cook tomatoes before baking them off in the dough, but I always quickly blanch asparagus, especially the thick meaty kind.
- 1 sheet puff pastry dough, thawed
- 1 bunch of asparagus, quickly blanched (dropped into boiling water for just 30 seconds & quickly plunged into ice water)
- 1 tablespoon of fresh thyme leaves
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- Salt and pepper, to taste
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Open up your puff pastry dough onto a sheet of parchment or wax paper. Roll out your thawed puff pastry dough just slightly, until it gains about two inches on all sides. Trace a rectangle about one inch in from all sides, to make your canvas for the asparagus. With a fork, poke a bunch of holes into the dough, making sure to poke holes across the entire rectangle.
If you didn’t roll out your dough on your cookie sheet, transfer the dough on the paper to the cookie sheet now.
Arrange your asparagus within the rectangle in whatever pattern you prefer. Sprinkle with the thyme leaves, olive oil, salt and pepper. Bake for about 35-40 minutes, or until the dough is golden brown and cooked through. Serve warm or at room temperature.