With summer picnics approaching, I could think of nothing
better than this simple bread-encrusted asparagus tart.
Serves 8 as starter or 4 as a main
Photo by Simon Lambert.
700g fresh asparagus spears, tough ends removed
75g butter, melted
1 loaf (12-15 slices) of white toast-sliced bread, crusts
50g freshly grated parmesan cheese
20g grated cheddar
½ tsp fresh thyme leaves, roughly chopped
¼ tsp salt and freshly grated pepper
Freshly grated nutmeg
Loaf tin 5cm-6cm deep, 30cm long or 7cm deep, 25cm long
Heat the oven to 170degC.
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to the boil, add
the prepared asparagus and cook until tender, about 4-6
minutes depending on size.
Refresh the asparagus immediately in cold or iced water to
instantly stop cooking. Drain well and set aside.
Lightly brush the slices of bread with the melted butter. You
want enough pieces of bread to tightly line the tin; start by
laying slices of bread, buttered side towards the tin, to
snugly overlap so they cover the base. Then place slices on
the sides and ends so the interior of the loaf tin is covered
with bread. It is vital that you have no gaps or exposed
seams otherwise the egg mixture will run out.
In a bowl, add the eggs, cheese, cream, thyme, nutmeg and
seasoning. Whisk to combine.
Place the asparagus neatly in the tin, I do one layer at a
time and turn the asparagus from layer to layer so the ends
and tips are evenly mixed throughout the tart.
Carefully pour the egg mixture over until all the asparagus
is well covered. Fold down any exposed bread and cover
tightly with enough slices of bread to seal the tart. Brush
lightly with butter. This will give a golden crisp top. Bake
in a preheated oven for 45 minutes or until it feels firm.
Remember it will continue to cook as it cools.
To serve, you are best to turn the tart out directly on to a
board and cut gently into slices. Delicious hot or cold.
• Alison Lambert, chef at the Otago Farmers Market, will
be demonstrating this recipe at the market on Saturday