If I were to pick one vegetable to represent Spring, it would have to be asparagus. The super fast growing spears are good raw, steamed, grilled or even turned in to pesto and purée. In this recipe for my friends at Prahran Market, I have teamed them with a few other Spring favourites for a vibrant asparagus tart that is great for lunch or as a starter.
8 large spears asparagus, halved and woody ends trimmed
8 spring onions
1 mozzarella ball
50g pea shoots
½ cup peas
½ cup broad beans
1 tin cannellini beans
½ bunch mint
½ bunch coriander
Juice and zest of ½ lemon
1 tsp sumac
3 tblsp extra virgin olive oil (I used Cockatoo Grove First Release Organic)
1 clove garlic crushed
1 sheet ready rolled puff pastry 27cm x 36cm (I used Careme)
Pre-heat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan-forced. Unroll the sheet of puff pastry onto a large oven tray lined with baking paper. Using the tip of a small, sharp knife, score a rectangle onto the pastry, leaving a 2cm border. Brush the border with beaten egg, then bake for 20-22 minutes until golden and cooked. Set the pastry base aside.
Bring a medium pan of water to the boil and individually blanch the vegetables then refresh in cold water and pat dry with paper towel. Cook the asparagus for 3-4 minutes. Cook the peas for 2-3 minutes. Cook the spring onions for 1 minute. Cook the broad beans to the water and cook for 2-3 minutes then refresh and shell the pods.
Put the garlic in a food processor with the peas, cannellini beans, sumac, lemon zest and juice, half the herbs and the 3 tbsp oil. Add a little salt and pepper, then whizz to a purée.
Heat a griddle pan until smoking hot, then add a little oil and the asparagus and spring onions. Char for 5-8 minutes until the veg have sear marks all over and are cooked through. Remove from the heat.
To assemble the asparagus tart, use your hands to push the middle rectangle of the pastry down, leaving the glazed 2cm raised border. Spoon the pea and bean purée into the centre and smooth it over the base. Top with the charred veg, peas, torn mozzarella and the pea shoots, then garnish with a pinch of sumac, the remaining herbs and a squeeze of lemon juice.