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
700g fresh asparagus spears, tough ends removed
75g butter, melted
1 loaf (12-15 slices) of white toast-sliced bread, crusts removed
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.