Eating asparagus in France (fresh white asparagus, that is), has always been synonymous with a little bit of luxury: a nice appetizer for a dinner party or a family Sunday lunch. My dad was (and still is) the one in charge of both purchasing and preparing the asperges blanches (I should ask my mother how many times she actually prepared them herself!), a task he really enjoyed for we all
I had never had green asparagus until I came to California and watched my roomate S. cook his asparagus like a scientist would run his experiments: perfect preparation, optimal water temperature and cooking time! Repeat (if needed) until perfection! I enjoyed watching him take them out of the pot as soon as they were done (and not one extra second) and having some with him! Most of the time, he would eat them with butter and shredded Parmesan cheese with black pepper to spice them up. So simple in a way! Un vrai régal!
I have been cooking green asparagus regularly since I moved back to the US. And even though I love them, I do miss asperges blanches once in a while. I do purchase white ones when I can find some at the market but I always think about it twice because most of the time they come from Peru... and that's a long way to Philadelphia for asparagus!
My children like green asparagus and I know that using S's recipe is always a safe way to have them eat them all. Interestingly enough (well I think it's really for lack of exposure because we can not grill in our apartment!!), they are not keen on grilled asparagus! Because we tend to eat des asperges vertes every week (or at least twice a month) when I can find nice ones at the market, I have tried to cook them in different ways. This recipe is a nice tarte salée that looks very French to me : shallots (French eat more shallots per capita than any other people in the world), fresh goat cheese and green asparagus. What about white asparagus instead (to make it even more French?) Well, for once, désolée, I won't be flexible. You see, I only like my white asparagus plain with a sauce mousseline. And nothing else, not even sauce vinaigrette! And don't even think about serving me canned white asparagus. I would not eat them (well, to be polite, I would, but I would not enjoy them!). Bon Appétit!
For a 9-inch tarte dish
For the dough:
- 250 gr (8.8 oz)AP flour
- 125 gr (4.4 oz) cold butter, in small pieces
- 5 cl (1.7 Fl oz) cold water
- Mix in the flour and the salt
- Add the butter and use a fork or a pastry cutter to make small pea-size pieces
- Pour half of the water.
- Pour the remaining of water, one tablespoon at a time
- Use your hand to make a ball with the dough, being careful not to work the dough too much
- Refrigerate for 30 minutes
- Butter and flour one 9-inch tart mold.
- Roll the dough onto a floured surface to make a 10-inch circle
- Refrigerate while you prepare the filling
For the filling:
- 4-5 small shallots, peeples, thinly sliced
- About 100 grams (3.5 oz) fresh goat cheese (Petit Billy, Chavroux or other local/importer goat cheese)
- Green asparagus, cleaned. You want to cut a few in small pieces to go into the filling and keep a few for decoration.
- 3 eggs
- Milk or light cream.
- Shredded Swiss cheese
- A few pine nuts
- Olive oil, salt, black pepper to taste.
- Pre-heat oven to 375F (190C)
- In a pan, saute the shallots in olive oil. Make sure that they don't dry. Reserve.
- Blanch the asparagus in salted boiling water (2-3 minutes)
- In a bowl, combine, eggs, goat cheese and milk/cream, pine nuts. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stirr well. You want to achieve a consistency of pancake dough.
- Lay a Tarte mold with the dough.
- Spread the shallots and small asparagus pieces on top of the dough, then spread the egg filling on top.
- Decorate with the remaining asparagus
- Cover with shredded Swiss cheese
- Bake in the oven for 40 minutesMy Personal Comments
- You could omit the extra Swiss cheese but my kids and husband really like their tartes salées with a nice layer of Swiss cheese on top!