Asparagus cheese tart offers a trio of cheeses, topped by seasoned, roasted asparagus, nestled in a puff pastry crust. Perfect for brunch, the tart is a great side for lunch or dinner along-side soup or salad. It's also a favorite appetizer for almost any occasion.
Why You'll Love this Recipe
We love asparagus for its pretty green color. It's good in so many dishes from soups and salads to quiches, and appetizers like our yummy asparagus cheese tart. This dish offers delicious flavor, and a certain elegance. And, it's ready in less than 30 minutes!
- Olive oil. Olive oil adds flavor, shine and tenderness to the asparagus tart.
- Asparagus. Asparagus is the star of the show. It’s the one with all the color! It add flavor and nutrients to our asparagus cheese tart.
- Gruyere cheese. Gruyere is a semi-hard traditional Swiss cheese. It is firm, so grates well, and adds a light nutty taste. It’s a smooth-melting cheese that adds flavor and structure.
- Fontina cheese. Fontina is an Italian cheese that’s semi-hard and has a high fat content giving a buttery, nutty flavor, and rich, creamy texture.
- Milk. Milk helps blend the cheese mixture together and adds protein.
- Egg. The egg helps hold the cheese mixture together and adds protein.
- Italian parsley. The parsley gives a fresh taste and and bit of color.
- Garlic salt. Garlic salt is a flavor enhancer.
- Black pepper. Pepper adds flavor.
- Lemon zest. Lemon zest brightens the flavor profile and adds a touch of color.
- Puff Pastry. Is a pastry dough made from layers of dough and butter that are laminated together to create a flakey, crisp texture. It's a lovely base for the tart. We use store-bought, frozen puff pastry in this recipe.
- Parmesan cheese. Parmesan is a hard cheese with a gritty texture and nutty taste. It comes from Italy, grates well, and adds sharp flavor.
How to Make this Recipe
- Thaw. The puff pastry comes in two sheets, marked and folded in thirds. You need one sheet for each asparagus cheese tart. Take the frozen sheet of puff pastry out of the box and let it thaw at room temp for 20-30 minutes. Don’t let the frozen puff pastry get too soft before you unfold it, or it’ll stick together. When it’s just soft enough, unfold the puff pastry sheet.
- Roll out. With a rolling pin, lightly roll out the puff pastry to smooth the folds. Don’t press too hard or overwork the dough, or you’ll lose the puff. Keep the dough cool so the pastry will puff when it’s heated. This means work quickly.
- Score the edges. Simply score the edges of your puff pastry with a small sharp knife, so you get professional looking raised edge when you bake.
- Prick. We prick the surface of the pastry with a fork to keep it from puffing up in the middle. Brush an egg wash (beaten egg with a bit of milk or water) lightly over the outer crust. This will give it a golden shine when it bakes.
5. Bake. Next, bake the puff pastry for a few short minutes, then pull it out to cool slightly and add the filling.
6. Spread cheese mixture. In this recipe, we use three different cheeses: Gruyere, Fontina and Parmesan. Shred the cheeses, then add an egg and some milk to the cheese mixture to help bind ingredients. It gives an almost quiche-like layer over the pastry. Fresh parsley and black pepper finish the egg-cheese mixture. Spread the cheese/egg mixture over baked puff pastry.
- Trim the asparagus. Trim tough end off asparagus stalk and try to keep spears similar lengths.
- Blanch the asparagus. Blanch asparagus in boiling water; this will brighten the color and help the asparagus be crisp-tender when baked.
- Toss with seasonings. Toss the blanched asparagus with olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper to coat.
10. Arrange. The asparagus tart looks best with same-length asparagus spears. So make sure to arrange similar sized asparagus end to tip across the cheese spread/puff pastry.
11. Bake again. Finally, simply pop the asparagus tart in the oven, then sprinkle with lemon zest once it's out. We like asparagus cheese tart best warm. But you can serve it warm or room temperature.
Puff Pastry Tips
Originating in France, this dough is called “pâte feuilletée,” It’s a pastry dough made from layers of dough and butter. These layers are laminated together to create a flakey, crisp texture that’s a lovely base for the asparagus tart and many other sweet and savory pastries. Here are our tips for working with puff pastry:
- Use Frozen. You can make your own, but we like the ease of frozen puff pastry from our local supermarket. It generally comes in two sheets, marked and folded in thirds.
- Thaw it. To thaw the frozen sheets of puff pastry, take then out of the box and let then thaw overnight in the fridge, or at room temperature for 20-30 minutes.
- Don't let it get too warm. Don't let frozen puff pastry get too soft before you unfold it, or it'll stick together. When it's just soft enough, unfold the puff pastry sheet.
- Use flour. Lightly flour your work surface to keep puff pastry from sticking when you roll it out. Gently dust off any flour you can once rolled to the shape you need.
- Don't overwork it. Handle the puff pastry as little as possible so it will be tender and crisp.
- Work Quickly. Work quickly so the pastry doesn't sit too long before baking. Put in back in the fridge for 15-20 minutes if it gets too soft. It will rise better when it bakes if it starts cool.
- Prick the pastry. For a cooked tart, bake your puff pastry for a few minutes first to make sure it cooks through. Prick it with a fork so steam can escape. Then you can fill and finish baking.
- Bake it hot. Bake puff pastry at a higher temperature (like 400 degrees) to get a full rise. Baking at low temperatures will cause the pastry to fall flat.
Tips on How to Pick Asparagus
Picking the right asparagus at the supermarket is important. Asparagus is in season during spring in the U.S. April is the "high season," but it's available year round from other parts of the world, mostly Central and South America.
- Hard thick stalks will likely be older and can be woody and tough at the end.
- Limp stems that are wrinkled or shriveled can be dehydrated and old as well.
- Fresh stalks will be very straight and firm but not hard.
- Look for smooth stalks and firm tips.
- For this recipe, it will look best to have asparagus stems that are similar in length and width.
How to Trim Asparagus
- Keep the lengths of the asparagus fairly similar for the asparagus cheese tart to look best.
- Trim the tough ends off the asparagus. Bend the asparagus. It will snap at the fibrous spot, then you can neatly trim the end.
- To keep more of the stalk, cut off the bottom, then trim the stems about ⅓ of the way up. (This saves more of the vegetable, but doesn’t look as good on the tart.)
How to Blanch Asparagus
Blanch the asparagus before adding it to the asparagus tart to brighten the green color. Place it in lightly salted, boiling water for about one minute. Remove quickly and place immediately in ice cold water to stop the cooking.
You can easily skip this step if you like, as the asparagus will roast sufficiently to make it tender while you bake the tart. We always blanch asparagus cause we love that green color!
Substitutions for this Recipe
Puff pastry has its own magic with crisp layers that rise up as a foundation for the asparagus tart. In a pinch, you could use pie dough or phyllo dough to make the crust for this recipe.
Almost any kind of cheese would make a delicious savory topping for this asparagus cheese tart. Goat cheese is wonderful served on the tart. We also love Camembert, Mozzarella, Burrata, Brie, Ricotta, and on and on.
Instead of asparagus, many things in your fridge would work well to top this recipe. Try any kind of sliced deli meat, small pre-cooked pieces of chicken, beef, pork or bacon. Many vegetables would be happy to sit atop this tart! We love oven roasted asparagus, but you could add peppers, carrots, onions, potatoes, olives, mushrooms, eggplant… you get the idea. Some vegetables with longer cooking times should be pre-cooked before adding to the tart.
Different Ways to Serve Asparagus Tart
We think asparagus cheese tart sings Spring! We love it for Easter. Actually we love it just about any time. This asparagus tart is so easy. With just a few ingredients it feels right for any meal. It’s also exciting enough to show off for brunch, and it makes a lovely accompaniment for a light dinner too. Try our asparagus cheese tart:
- As a main dish for brunch
- With a green salad for lunch
- With a cream soup for supper
- As a side dish with roast chicken for dinner
- Cut in thin pieces as a party appetizer
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
You can make the asparagus puff pastry one to two days before you serve it. We recommend making the crust, blanching the asparagus, and mixing the cheese spread separately. Keep them each refrigerated, then assemble and bake early in the day to serve cold, or just before your meal to serve warm.
Asparagus is in season during spring in the U.S. April is the "high season," but it's available year 'round from other parts of the world, mostly Central and South America.
A healthy addition to your diet, asparagus is low in calories but high in nutrients. It's a great source of antioxidants and vitamin K (involved in bone health and blood clotting.) Asparagus is also a good way to get vitamins A and C.
How to Store Cheese and Asparagus Tart
We don’t think you’ll have leftovers, but if you do: cut the asparagus cheese tart in serving size wedges. Wrap in plastic wrap and seal well. Store in the refrigerator, or freeze up to two months.
Once thawed, we recommend re-heating the asparagus tart on a baking sheet in an 250 degree oven for 3-4 minutes. Microwaving will cause the puff pastry to get tough and rubbery. The asparagus cheese tart is also delicious served cold.
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Asparagus Cheese Tart
- 1 pound asparagus spears
- 1 sheet puff pastry about 8 ounces or ½ package
For Cheese Mixture
- 2-3 ounces Fontina cheese about 1 cup
- 2-3 ounces Grueyere cheese about 1 cup
- 2 Tablespoons shredded or shaved parmesan cheese
- 2 Tablespoons minced flat leaf parsley
- 1 egg
- 2 Tablespoons milk
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
For Asparagus Coating
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- ½ teaspoon garlic salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- zest of one lemon
- Trim tough end off asparagus spears (try to keep spears similar lengths). Blanch asparagus in boiling water for 2 minutes. Then place immediately in ice water. (this will brighten the color and help the asparagus be crisp-tender when baked.)
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Thaw puff pastry according to manufacturer’s directions. Open pastry and roll out on a lightly floured board. Roll it so it’s approximately a 10 x 16 inch rectangle.
- Move pastry dough to baking sheet and score a 1-inch border around the edges with a small sharp knife. Prick the pastry all over (inside the score line) with a fork. Brush an egg wash (beaten egg with a bit of milk or water) lightly over the outer crust. This will give it a golden shine when it bakes. Bake about 10 minutes and let cool.
- Mix the cheese, parsley, egg, milk, ¼ teaspoon pepper in a medium bowl to combine. Spread the cheese mixture over the puff pastry inside the border.
- Toss asparagus with olive oil, ½ teaspoon garlic salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper to coat. Arrange the asparagus end to tip across the puff pastry. Trim any pieces that are too long. The tart looks best with same-length asparagus spears.
- Bake 15 minutes or until edges of pastry are golden brown. Remove from oven and sprinkle lightly with lemon zest.