Nigel Slater: Asparagus puff pastry tarts, light as a summer breeze

Greenfeast Friday: Asparagus, puff pastry. Source Irish asparagus if you can

It’s Friday, so perhaps it is time for a treat, a reward for getting to the end of the week. If you can get your hands on some Irish asparagus for this recipe, do so. The lack of air miles makes such a difference to this seasonal green.

And if you can track down a block of all-butter Roll It puff pastry, made in Co Meath by Mairead Finnegan, put it in your basket. You'll find it in some SuperValu branches and independent delicatessens and food shops.

They're quite petite, these tarts, so Slater says two is about right per person, and he recommends serving them with a grain salad. – Marie-Claire Digby

A note on the recipes
Though all are plant based, the six recipes from Greenfeast that are appearing on irishtimes.com this week – one each day, from Monday to Saturday – are not strictly vegan. They can, however, be rendered suitable for vegan diets with a bit of informed tweaking.

NIGEL SLATER’S ASPARAGUS, PUFF PASTRY

Six little tarts, light as a summer breeze
Makes half a dozen small tarts

Ingredients
8 asparagus spears
250g puff pastry
1 egg, beaten
150g goat's cheese
150g cream cheese
1tsp fresh thyme leaves

Method
1 Set the oven at 200 Celsius/gas 6. Put an upturned baking sheet in the oven. Bring a medium pan of water to the boil. Trim the asparagus, then cut each spear into three short lengths. Drop the asparagus into the pan and let it boil for two minutes, before lifting out with a draining spoon and refreshing in iced water.

2 Roll the pastry out to a rectangle measuring 34cm by 22cm. Cut the rectangle into six equal squares. Place the squares on a lined baking sheet. Using the tip of a knife, score a smaller square 1cm in from the edges of each piece of pastry. Brush a little beaten egg around the outside square of each piece of pastry.

3 Drain the asparagus on kitchen paper. Crush the goat's cheese with a fork and fold in the cream cheese and thyme. Divide the mixture between the six squares of pastry and put four asparagus pieces on each. Put the baking sheet on top of the preheated sheet already in the oven, and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the tarts are golden. Eat immediately.

Greenfeast: Spring, Summer, by Nigel Slater, is published by 4th Estate Books

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