Making the most of the short season for British asparagus, these cheesy tarts make a perfect early summer lunch served with a crisp leafy salad and a glass of chilled white.
Pastry recipe included, but it’s fine to use shop-bought butter shortcrust instead.
Makes 6 individual 9cm tarts.
255g plain flour
150g unsalted butter
2 egg yolks
Pinch of salt
Very cold water to mix
Butter for greasing
300g asparagus, tough stalk ends removed
50g strong cheddar cheese, grated
60g Parmesan Reggiano, grated
3 large eggs
400ml double cream
Salt and pepper
First make the pastry. In a large bowl, sift in the flour and rub together with the butter until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the salt.
Mix the egg yolks with 1 tablespoon of the cold water and add to the mix to bring together. Add a little more water if needed. Cover and keep in the fridge until needed.
Blanch the asparagus. Prepare a bowl with some ice cubes and cold water. Bring a pan of water to the boil and add a pinch of salt. Cook the asparagus in the boiling water for 1 minute, then transfer immediately to the bowl of iced water to cool. Drain and cut the tips off the asparagus about 5cm down. Chop the remaining stalks into 1cm pieces.
Preheat the oven to 200˚c and place a baking tray inside.
Use 9cm individual tart tins.
Butter the tart tins generously. Roll out the pastry to about 2mm thick and line the buttered tins. Divide the chopped asparagus and the grated cheddar between the tins.
Loosely beat the eggs and mix with the cream, season with a little salt and pepper. Pour over the asparagus and cheddar then add the Parmesan and asparagus tips.
Carefully place the tins directly on to the hot baking tray and cook for 10 minutes. Turn the oven down to 180˚C and cook for a further 8 minutes until puffy and set. Remove the tarts, keeping them on the tray and allow to cool for 10-15 minutes. Turn out the tarts and serve with a crisp summer salad.