More reliable than a thermometer or a calendar, the presence of asparagus is a sure sign it is spring. These perky individual asparagus tarts totally flaunt the season with the addition of broad beans and peas scattered over their tops.
The recipe, adapted for the Thermomix by Lesley Russell, is inspired by the Australian classic cookbook The Cook’s Companion (Penguin, 1996), selling more then 500,000 copies, by chef, restaurateur and Kitchen Garden innovator Stephanie Alexander. It reflects the spirit of the book and of the season in being a champion of garden-fresh ingredients, and is
an easy and attractive bring-a-plate dish for any picnic or party.
If you can, look for early-harvest asparagus fresh from the soil, which is when it is at its most sweet and juicy. Be sure to snap off the woody ends, and trim the feathery tips to parade them on top of the tarts with the other spring vegetables and herbs. The fresh torn mint and parsley, along with the veg, bring a bright balance to the richness of these egg-based tarts. And the papery crisp, layered filo pastry adds golden flaky texture.
- Measure the cream and pour it into the mixing bowl. Add the garlic and cook 7 minutes/100 degrees/speed soft with the MC out.
- Trim off the tips of the asparagus spears and reserve.
- Cut the asparagus stalks into pieces and weigh 200 grams into the mixing bowl with the cream. Cook again 5 minutes/100 degrees/speed soft with the MC in. The asparagus should be soft but still green; cook a little longer if need be.
- Puree 30 seconds/speed 8—9 to create a smooth bright green cream. Remove the lid and allow the mix to cool down to 50 degrees before adding the eggs.
- Meanwhile organise the filo pastry. Lay the first sheet out so the long edge is towards you. Brush with melted butter then place a second sheet on top. Brush again with butter and continue until all 5 sheets have been used. Cut the filo in half horizontally, then into 4 vertically to create 8 even squares.
- Gently press these into the holes of a muffin tin, being sure not to poke a hole through the bottom. Be sure that the edges of the pastry sit above the level of the muffin tin. Stand the edges up to form peaks. Heat the oven to 175C.
- Add the eggs to the cream mixture and combine 10 seconds/speed 4. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Pour the mixture into filo cases filling them as much as you can without going over the level of the tin.
- Bake in the centre of the oven for 20–25 minutes. The mixture should be set in the centre and the filo nicely browned. The filling will have puffed up but will settle again once the tarts come out of the oven.
- Transfer the tarts from the tin on to a cooling rack as soon as possible, so the pastry stays crisp. Allow to cool completely but do not refrigerate.
- Cook the asparagus tips in boiling salted water until tender, adding the peas and broad beans in the last minute. Drain then toss with a little olive oil, salt and pepper.
- Arrange the tarts on a platter then scatter the mixed greens and torn herbs over the top.
AND … These tarts are best served at room temperature and ideally are not refrigerated at any stage; however, the asparagus filling can be made ahead of time and refrigerated until needed.