Recipes | Asparagus and ricotta tart with herb pastry


Asparagus and ricotta tart with herb pastry

This unusual quiche comes from Great British Bakeoff star Flora Shedden's really charming cookbook Gatherings

Flora writes: "This tart is a beautiful fresh spring bake. It is much lighter than a traditional quiche due to the mixture of ricotta and crème fraîche.

You can use dried herbs, but I really recommend having pots of fresh ones dotted around the house. They are easy to maintain and really lift dishes like this.

The pastry can be used in any savoury tart or quiche for something a bit different to a regular shortcrust.

For the pastry

100g (3½oz) cold unsalted butter, cubed
150g (5½oz) plain flour, plus extra for dusting
40g (1½oz) wholemeal flour
10g (¼oz) cornflour
2 teaspoons chopped fresh herbs (such as basil, thyme and sage)
2–4 tablespoons milk
salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the filling

250g (9oz) asparagus, chopped diagonally into thirds
100g (3½oz) peas or shelled broad beans
200g (7oz) ricotta cheese
100ml (3½fl oz) milk
100g (3½oz) crème fraiche
2 eggs
3 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs (such as parsley, chives, mint)
75g (2¾oz) spring onions, finely sliced
75g (2¾oz) Parmesan cheese, grated
50g (1¾oz) pine nuts
salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the garnish
chopped fresh herbs (such as purple basil, parsley and chives), optional

Put all the ingredients for the pastry bar the milk in a food processor. Blitz until combined, then blitz in the milk 1 tablespoon at a time. Alternatively, rub the butter into the flours until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs, stir in the herbs, gradually add the milk, then knead gently until the mixture comes together. Once the pastry dough is smooth, wrap it in clingfilm and refrigerate for a minimum of 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180ºC (350ºF), Gas Mark 4.

Bring a pan of water to the boil and cook the asparagus pieces for no more than 3 minutes. Scoop them out of the water and immediately plunge them into a bowl of cold water. Cook the peas or broad beans in the same water for no more than 1 minute. Drain and add these to the cold water.

In a bowl, whisk the ricotta, milk, crème fraîche, eggs, herbs and some seasoning together.

Roll out the pastry dough on a lightly floured work surface to a thickness of 2–3mm (¹⁄16–¹⁄8 inch). Transfer the dough to a 23cm (9 inch) loose-bottomed tart tin and gently press it into the edges of the tin. Run the rolling pin across the top edges of the tin to cut away the overhanging pastry.

Drain the vegetables and pat them dry. Scatter the sliced spring onion over the pastry with half the grated Parmesan. Now add the vegetables, reserving a few of the asparagus tips. Carefully pour the egg mixture on top. Don’t worry if the vegetables all move around – this is fine.

Top with the remaining grated cheese, the pine nuts and the reserved asparagus tips. Bake for 35–45 minutes until the filling is set and the pastry is golden brown. Garnish with a sprinkling of chopped fresh herbs, then serve.

What to drink: A Loire sauvignon blanc like Sancerre or Pouilly Fumé would be perfect with this. Or an English Bacchus white wine.

From Gatherings by Flora Shedden which is published by Mitchell Beazley at £25 ( Image © Laura Edwards.



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