This versatile, seasonal tart is easy, yet deliciously impressive as a light lunch, supper, starter or cut into squares as a nibble with drinks. We make our puff pastry the day before service, but in the interests of making this really accessible, suggest you use a good shop-bought ready roll. If you would like our recipe for puff, simply let us know and we'll send it to you.
We love Berkswell cheese, produced by the Fletcher family at Ram Hall farm in the West Midlands, made from unpasturised ewes' milk and left to mature for 6 months. It is perfect with the best of British asparagus. Berkswell is available in good supermarkets & cheese shops, but if you can’t find it, use Pecorino. Since animal rennet is added during the cheese making process, this tart is not suitable for vegetarians, but a vegetarian ‘parmesan-style’ hard cheese could be used instead. Serve with a crisp green, herby salad packed with chives, chervil and oregano, or with a scattering of wild garlic flowers.
Serves 8 as a starter or 4 as a main
- 320 g ready rolled puff pastry
- 400 g flat or field mushrooms peeled & blitzed
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 100 g sprig of thyme, leaves picked or 1 tbsp dried
- 10-12 fat spears of British asparagus
- 100 g Berkeswell cheese
- 1 egg yolk + 1 tbsp milk, mixed
- Olive oil, sea salt & pepper
- To make a duxelles, bring the blitzed mushrooms to boil over a high heat, add your onions, garlic & thyme. Allow to simmer for around 40 minutes to create a dry paste, stirring occasionally to ensure it does not burn.
- Pre-heat a baking tray in the oven while you construct the tart.
- Lay the pastry sheet onto baking parchment. Score each edge 1 cm in, do not allow your scoring to touch at the corners and be careful not to cut too far into the pastry.
- Cover the inner rectangle that the scoring has created with the mushroom duxelles, then lay your raw asparagus spears across the width, alternating tips as you go.
- Brush the tart with the egg yolk mix, then add a drizzle of olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt and freshly ground pepper.
- Slide onto the hot baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes.
- Remove the rind from the Berkswell and shave over the asparagus before returning the tray to the oven for 8 minutes.
- Carefully lift a corner to ensure the underside is golden brown, slide off the parchment onto a cooling rack to avoid a "soggy bottom," serve warm.