RECIPE: A speedy asparagus tart to brighten days of April showers

220320 Atlanta, Ga: Asparagus and Cream Cheese Tart. For 042122Challenge (CHRIS HUNT FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION)

Credit: CHRIS HUNT

Combined ShapeCaption
220320 Atlanta, Ga: Asparagus and Cream Cheese Tart. For 042122Challenge (CHRIS HUNT FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION)

Credit: CHRIS HUNT

Simple vegetable tarts made from frozen puff pastry make for a perfect spring dinner. With equal parts freshness and buttery richness, they’re excellent for days that are heavy with April showers. Crisp asparagus, tangy cream cheese, bright lemon and grassy-sweet fresh thyme make for particularly nice toppings.

Because the cream cheese and asparagus release a fair amount of moisture when they cook (and they don’t need much time in the oven), it’s best to par-bake the crust. To save time, you can pop the crust in the oven while you prepare the cheese mixture and trim the asparagus. Once the crust just starts to puff and turn golden brown, pull it from the oven and very carefully top it with the cheese and asparagus. At that point, add most of the thyme so that it softens and melds with the crust. Saving a few pinches for serving brings greater complexity to the dish.

I like to add a final drizzle of the best olive oil I’ve got on hand, plus a sprinkle of flaky salt, right before serving with a simple mixed green salad.

Asparagus and Cream Cheese Tart
  • 1 (14-ounce) sheet frozen all-butter puff pastry, thawed
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 lemon
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 bunch asparagus, stalk ends trimmed and cut into 4-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme, divided
  • Flaky salt, for serving (optional)
  • On the side: Mixed green salad
  • Heat oven to 425 degrees.
  • While the oven is heating, press the puff pastry out onto a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat. Use a sharp knife to score a border about 1/4 inch inside the edges of the tart. Use a fork to generously dock the pastry inside the border.
  • Transfer to the oven and bake for 10 minutes.
  • While the crust is baking, zest the lemon into the cream cheese. Cut the lemon in half and squeeze half of the lemon’s worth of juice into the cream cheese. (Reserve the second half for another use.) Mix well and season with salt and pepper.
  • When the pastry is finished, dollop the cream cheese mixture all over the pastry. Top with the asparagus and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the oil. Sprinkle with 3/4 teaspoon of thyme.
  • Transfer back to the oven and bake until the pastry is deeply browned, 10 to 15 minutes. Drizzle with another tablespoon of oil, top with the remaining thyme, and sprinkle with flaky salt, if desired. Serve with salad on the side. Serves 4.

Nutritional information

Per serving: Per serving: 391 calories (percent of calories from fat, 71), 7 grams protein, 22 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams fiber, 32 grams total fat (14 grams saturated), 29 milligrams cholesterol, 442 milligrams sodium.
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