Asparagus and goats’ curd tart

Preparation time
30 mins to 1 hour

Cooking time
10 to 30 mins

Serves
Serves 4–6

Dietary
Vegetarian

By Rosie Birkett

Ingredients

For the wild garlic pesto

  • 40g/1½oz peeled hazelnuts, roasted
  • 100g/3½oz wild garlic, roughly chopped
  • 30g/1oz Parmesan (or alternative vegetarian hard cheese), finely grated
  • ½ unwaxed lemon, zest and juice
  • 100ml/3½fl oz extra virgin oil

For the pink pickled onions

  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 limes, juice only
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp caster sugar

For the pastry

  • 180g/6oz plain flour
  • 70g/2½oz light spelt flour or plain flour
  • 1 tbsp buckwheat groats
  • ½ tsp fine sea salt
  • 125g/4½oz cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 1 free-range egg yolk
  • 1 tbsp soured cream
  • 1–3 tbsp iced water

For the filling

  • 400g/14oz asparagus spears, trimmed
  • ½ tbsp olive oil
  • 320g/11½oz goats’ curd (or 200g/7oz ricotta mixed with 120g/4½oz soft goats’ cheese)
  • 1 lemon, zest and 1 tsp juice
  • ½ tsp pink peppercorns, ground
  • 1 tbsp wild garlic pesto, from above
  • 2 tbsp pink pickled onions, from above
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

To garnish

  • 1 tbsp roughly chopped chervil
  • 1 tbsp roughly chopped tarragon
  • borage flowers (optional)

Method

  1. To make the wild garlic pesto, put the hazelnuts, wild garlic, Parmesan, lemon zest and juice in a food processor and blitz briefly until coarsely chopped. Season with salt and pepper, then slowly add the oil and blend again until you have a pesto consistency.

  2. To make the pink pickled onions, put the onions in a large bowl, pour over boiling water, then allow to stand for 15 minutes. Drain the onions in a colander.

  3. In the same bowl, whisk together the lime juice, salt and sugar. Add the onions and mix well. Allow to steep for at least 1 hour.

  4. Meanwhile, to make the pastry, put the flours, buckwheat and salt in a food processor and blitz for a few seconds to combine. Add the butter and blitz again, then add the egg yolk and soured cream and blitz, adding the iced water a tablespoon at a time, until a dough is formed. Tip out the dough and form into a smooth ball, then shape into a rectangle. Wrap the dough in baking paper and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

  5. Preheat the oven to 200C/180C Fan/Gas 6.

  6. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface to slightly larger than the tart tin and about the thickness of a pound coin. Line the tin with the pastry, leaving an overhang and prick the base with a fork. Line the pastry shell with baking paper and fill with the baking beans or rice, and blind-bake for 20 minutes. Remove the paper and beans, return the pastry to the oven and bake for another 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

  7. Have a bowl of iced water ready. Put the asparagus in a saucepan with a tight fitting lid, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

  8. Put the pan on a medium heat and steam the asparagus for about 4 minutes, shaking the pan from time to time. Remove the asparagus from the pan and plunge into the iced water. Chop the stalks of half the asparagus spears into 1cm/½in discs, leaving the tips of the spears about 4cm/1½in long.

  9. To make the filling, combine the goats’ curd with the lemon zest and juice, pink peppercorns and a large pinch of salt. Season to taste, then spread the mixture over the base of the tart. Dot with the wild garlic pesto, then swirl into the cheese. Cover with the chopped asparagus tips and spears, then arrange the longer spears so they are covering the tart. Drain the onions and strew them delicately across the tart, then garnish with the chervil, tarragon and borage flowers, if using, and serve.