Asparagus, Goat Cheese, and Tarragon tart
I’m no good at making pastries, not even simple ones. I wouldn’t dream of putting together this tart by Melissa Clark (published in the New York Times and featured in Clark’s How I Came to Cook in French) except that Clark gives her blessing to using a puff pastry instead of making it from scratch! I think I can do that, and as asparagus comes to market this spring, I’m going to give it at least a couple of tries.
My daughter-in-law recently prepared this tart for a family gathering, and though I’m not in her league when it comes to cooking, I felt encouraged nonetheless to see with my very own eyes that, with a good, store-bought, all-butter puff pastry, making this beautiful and delicious tart might be possible for people like me! (I took a picture of my daughter-in-law’s tart to accompany this recipe.)
Yield: 6 to 8 servings
Time: 1 hour
- 1 cup soft goat cheese, at room temperature (4 ounces)
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten, at room temperature
- 1 large garlic clove, finely grated or minced
- 1 ½ tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon leaves, plus more for serving
- ½ tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more for sprinkling
- Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 cup crème fraîche, at room temperature (8 ounces)
- All-purpose flour, for dusting the work surface
- 1 sheet or square all-butter puff pastry, thawed if frozen (about 9 to 14 ounces; brands vary)
- 8 ounces thin asparagus, woody ends trimmed
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Red-pepper flakes (optional)
- 1 ½ ounces Parmesan, shaved with a vegetable peeler (about 1/2 cup)
- Heat oven to 425 degrees. In a medium bowl, use a fork or a wooden spoon to mash together the goat cheese, egg, garlic, tarragon, lemon zest, salt and nutmeg until smooth. Switch to a whisk and beat in the crème fraîche until smooth.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll out puff pastry into a 13-by-11-inch rectangle about 1/8-inch thick. Transfer the dough to a parchment-lined cookie sheet. With a sharp knife, lightly score a 1/2-inch border around the edges of the puff pastry.
- Spread the crème fraîche mixture evenly inside the scored border. Line up the asparagus spears on top, and brush them with olive oil. Sprinkle some salt and the grated Parmesan over the asparagus.
- Bake until the pastry is puffed and golden, 25 to 30 minutes. Let it cool on the cookie sheet for at least 15 minutes or up to 4 hours before serving. Then sprinkle black pepper, red-pepper flakes (if using), the shaved Parmesan and tarragon leaves. Drizzle a little oil on top.
- You can assemble the tart 1 day in advance; but reserve the sprinkling of salt and grated Parmesan until right before baking. Loosely cover the tart and store it in the refrigerator until it’s time to bake.
This locally inspired recipe is brought to you by Pam Walker. Pam is an avid home cook, writer, and local farm and food activist who is also a board member of the Santa Fe Farmers’ Market Institute. Thank you, Pam, for helping inspire us to use locally sourced ingredients!