Such was the allure of asparagus that the Romans, as early as the first century AD, froze their asparagus by sticking into snow in the alps. The first Roman emperor, Augustus, is said to have established the asparagus fleet, a chain of super fast chariots that would take the fresh asparagus from the Tiber river to the Alps. It was kept there for six months until the feast of Epicurus.
Due to its short season, asparagus is still a hot commodity, even though now we can have it almost all year round due to the globalisation of food. However, I still prefer to savour the Irish or British varieties, not only for their superior flavour, but also due to the reduction in air miles. Buying local asparagus is a treat worth waiting for each May.
How to make asparagus and goat’s cheese tart
Trim the woody ends off 450g asparagus. Roll out one sheet (320g) of ready-made puff pastry. With a knife, score a rectangle 1cm border in from the edge. Place the puff pastry on a sheet of baking parchment and then on to a suitable oven tray.
Combine 125g of soft goat’s cheese and 50g cream cheese in a small bowl. Lightly season with a little sea salt. Spread the goat’s cheese mixture all over the surface of the puff pastry, ensuring the scored border is free of mixture.
Beat one egg in a small bowl and brush the egg wash over the edge of the pastry. Arrange the asparagus spears in a single layer over the goat’s cheese. Season with another pinch of sea salt.
Place in a preheated 180 degree oven for 15 minutes, or until the pastry is golden and puffed around the edges. Allow the tart to cool slightly and then finish with some green leaves and a little lemon juice and zest. Elderflower, though still a few weeks away, would work wonderfully with this tart, as a garnish or by adding a little cordial (which is available in most supermarkets) into the goat’s cheese mixture.