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I needed a last-minute weeknight dinner and a way to use up some asparagus I’d had on hand for just a little too long. My first thought was soup, but it was 65 degrees outside (in Seattle, in May, that’s warm) and I didn’t really want to make or eat soup. So, I threw this puff pastry tart together to have with a very simple salad; it tasted even better than I expected. Sometimes a simple meal made from a few delicious ingredients is the best choice.

Puff Pastry Tart with Asparagus & Gouda (serves 4)

  • 1 T. unsalted butter
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 1 lb. asparagus, woody ends trimmed, cut into 1-2″ lengths
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • pinch of lemon salt* (kosher salt is fine)
  • a few grinds of black pepper
  • 1 sheet of puff pastry, thawed
  • 1/4 c. aged Gouda, shredded
  • 1 T. whole milk or cream

In a skillet, heat the butter and olive oil over medium heat; add the shallot and cook for 1-2 mins. until it begins to be fragrant. Add the asparagus pieces and thyme to the pan and toss to combine with the shallots; cook for 3-4 mins. more and remove from the heat. Season with the salt and pepper. You don’t have to worry about the asparagus being under-cooked since it will bake for some time in the tart, but if you prefer your asparagus very soft, you may want to saute it for an additional 3-4 mins.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees; lightly grease a 9″ cake or pie pan or something similar. Unroll your thawed puff pastry and lay it flat on the bottom of your chosen pan. Heap the asparagus in the center of the pastry and top with the Gouda. (I like the mellow taste and crumbly texture of aged Gouda; use that or “regular” Gouda with equally favorable results.) Fold the pastry in to contain the filling; there should be a gap in the center that remains uncovered but the asparagus should be walled in to prevent your delicious cheese from oozing out everywhere. When you have things wrapped up to your liking, brush the top of the puff pastry with milk and bake for 35 mins. Your tart is done when the cheese is melted and golden brown with golden pastry puffed up around it.

*I made some Meyer lemon salt in January and look for every excuse to use it. If you don’t have lemon salt on hand, you can mimic the effect by adding a pinch of lemon zest to the asparagus when you add the salt and pepper.

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