This easy tart dials up the glamour, with all the lovely flavors of Spring.
Lemon, lemon zest, creamy ricotta, a bit of Parmesan and tender spears of asparagus- what could be better? The fact that it's so easy makes it a really good choice for an early Spring brunch, lunch, or even a light supper. Eaten on the porch, perhaps, with a good crisp white or rose in hand it lends itself perfectly to our first tentative forays back into entertaining and gathering after the longest winter in memory.
Store-bought, frozen puff pastry sheets kick off the prep, but of course your can make your own. We're working way too many hours around here, so we opt for the Pepperidge Farm (or Dufour if we can find them) ready-made. Thawed, rolled, scored and pre-baked, they offer a perfectly acceptable base for the creamy, lemony ricotta and asparagus.
There's one thing I do want to share- my brilliant zester. This clever contraption has sharp blades on the front, and an ingenious cover to catch the zest (complete with measurements!) on the back. It made by Kitchen IQ, and you can find it on Amazon here.
As the trees and grass green up, the forsythia pops, and the trees bud and bloom, this pretty tart will serve as confirmation that brighter days are just ahead.
Lemon Ricotta Asparagus Tart
1. Preheat the oven to 400°F and place a rack in the center of the oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Lightly flour your surface, and roll out the puff pastry sheet into a large rectangle, roughly 10" x 17". Roll it up onto the rolling pin, transfer to the parchment-lined baking sheet, and unroll gently.
3. Prick the puff pastry all over with a fork. If you'd like a more pronounced edge, lightly score the dough about 1" from the edges all the way around.
4. Bake for 10-12 minutes until the pastry is lightly browned, and remove from oven. Let cool.
5. In a medium sized mixing bowl, combine ricotta, 1/2 c. parmesan, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, pepper, thyme leaves, and mix until well-combined (you can use a fork to break the ricotta down a bit).
6. Depending on the size of your asparagus spears you can briefly blanch them for tenderness by heating 2" of water in a skillet, then boiling the asparagus for 2-3 minutes. Rinse and let cool. If you are using small, tender asparagus you can skip this step.
7. Spread the lemon ricotta filling over the cooled crust, stopping about 1" from the edges all around.
8. Assemble the asparagus spears across the filling, pressing down slightly to sink them into the filling a bit. Top with remaining 1/4 c. of grated Parmesan, salt and pepper to taste.
9. Brush the edges of the crust with a little olive oil and bake for 18 minutes, until the asparagus has softened and turned a bright green and the crust is a deep golden brown.
9. Garnish with chopped chives, or maybe some little edible flowers if you're feeling extra, serve warm or at room temperature.
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