Don’t you love waking up in the morning these days? Spring is springing, a heavenly cup of coffee is forthcoming, AND we are smack in the middle of local asparagus season. Life is good.
It is arguable that there is never any defensible reason to do anything with asparagus besides roasting it beneath a thin drizzle of good olive oil, and a sprinkle of sea salt. But I was having family over for Sunday dinner recently, and wanted to be somewhat dazzling, so concocted a spring asparagus galette. I was thrilled with how it turned out–simple to make, beautiful to look at, delightful to eat.
This recipe claims no pretensions to the higher strata of eco-kosher-uber-healthiness. But it WILL let you pick some nice spring greens, thank your local asparagus farmer, then watch happily as your grateful friends gather at your table and fall into faints over the wondrous deliciousness.
Crust: Make a batch of your favorite pie crust recipe (I confess I pretty much always use Martha’s Perfect Pate Brisee for such things). You’ll need enough for the bottom half of a 10″ pie, so you will probably have half a recipe left to freeze for next time. Chill the dough while you make the filling.
Filling: Whisk together–
–2 cups ricotta (low fat is fine)
–2 cups grated gruyere
–1 teaspoon each of chopped fresh oregano and thyme (or 1/2 teaspoon each of dried)
–1 teaspoon kosher salt
–a few healthy turns of the pepper grinder
Roll the dough into a 14″ circle, about 1/8″ thick, and carefully transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment, or ever-so-lightly oiled. Spread the filling into the middle 10 inches of the circle, leaving 2 inches of crust all around. Fold the crust over the filling, tucking the excess into little pleats.
Make an egg wash by whisking 1 egg with a teaspoon of water. With a pastry brush, spread the wash between the pastry pleats, “glueing” them down. Then spread a light layer of the wash over all of the exposed crust. This will keep it moist, and give it a beautiful golden-brown finish when baked. Chill the tart while you prepare the asparagus.
Asparagus topping: Preheat the oven to 425. Use a medium-large bunch of asparagus (about 4-5″ diameter–sorry, I just grabbed, I didn’t bother to weigh or measure). Break the tough ends off, and peel about halfway up the stalks. Cut diagonally into 1 1/2-2″ pieces. Put the asparagus in a bowl, and toss with a little good olive oil. Sprinkle with your best sea salt. Spread on a baking sheet, and roast for 15 minutes, or until just tender and beginning to brown.
Lower the oven temperature to 375. Remove your galette from the fridge and bake until the filling is set, and the crust is a lovely brown–about 50-55 minutes. (You can roast the asparagus at the same time if you like–it will do fine at this slightly lower temperature.)
Grab a couple handfuls of mixed spring greens (including some peppery arugula if available), and toss with a drizzle of olive oil, a couple pinches of sea salt, plenty of fresh ground pepper, and a teaspoon of lemon zest. Don’t leave out the lemon zest! It will mingle so nicely with the asparagus…
When the galette comes out of the oven, allow it to cool for about 20 minutes. Layer the asparagus over the top, then the greens on top of that. Take a moment to admire your creation before carefully slicing to share. This is such a rich dish, you can serve it with just a bowl of fresh fruit for a complete meal. Galettes travel well at room temperature–this would make a great picnic. Enjoy!
And in the meantime let us know: What’s your favorite way to serve asparagus?