So often, our dinners are inspired simply by what’s in the house. At the moment, that’s asparagus, bacon, and a batch of homemade ricotta. Normally that would result in 1) pasta, or 2) risotto, or maybe 3) quiche, but I was hankering for something new.
Melissa at Shoots & Roots has a photo of a beautiful asparagus tart on her home page; I used her recipe as a jumping-off point. I met Melissa when I participated in the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap (I highly recommend it for all food bloggers out there). I met some great women, and have followed their blogs ever since.
We used our organic, thick-cut bacon for this tart (only one pound left!), which is not nearly as salty as commercial bacon; go easy on the salt if you use grocery-store bacon. I blanched the asparagus first, but if you use very thin stalks, you could skip this step. Next time I’d cut my stalks all the same length for maximum beauty, but we were hungry.
We ate far more of this tart than was strictly advisable, considering that bacon + puff pastry does not make for a low-calorie dinner. But it was such a perfect combination of flavors and textures it was hard to resist. I’d serve it with a citrus salad next time. Because there will definitely be a next time. Oh yeah.
Asparagus, Bacon, and Ricotta Tart
inspired by Shoots and Roots’ Asparagus and Gruyere Tart
Serves 4 as a main course, or 8-10 as an appetizer
1 lb. (2 sheets) frozen puff pastry
1/2 lb. asparagus
6 slices thick-cut bacon
1 cup ricotta (preferably homemade)
3 tbs. chopped chives
3 tbs. chopped parsley
1 tsp. grated lemon zest
salt and pepper
1 cup grated parmesan, divided
Heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Set the sheets of puff pastry out to thaw for an hour, or — better yet — thaw them several hours ahead of time in the fridge.
Trim tough ends off the asparagus. If you like a perfectly symmetrical tart, you can line them up and cut them all the same length, but you don’t have to be that picky if you don’t want to. Steam the asparagus for about 4 minutes until crisp-tender. Place on a kitchen towel to drain.
Cook the bacon until crisp. Set on paper towels to drain.
In a small bowl, mix the ricotta with the chives, parsley, and lemon zest. Taste and add salt and pepper; remember you’ll be using both bacon and parmesan, so undersalt just a bit.
Roll the puff pastry out just a little with a rolling pin, mostly to smooth out the seams. Place the sheets on parchment on one large cookie sheet or two small ones. Score a line about 1 inch inside the edge on both sheets (don’t cut all the way through; just mark a line). Using a fork, prick inside the edges of both sheets about every 1/2 inch. Bake for 15 minutes. The pastry will still be pale and will puff up, but it’ll settle down as you add the toppings, and you’ll have a pretty, flaky border.
For each tart, spread about 1/2 cup of the ricotta mixture over the center of the area you pricked with a fork. Sprinkle about 1/4 cup parmesan over the ricotta. Crumble three slices of bacon over the cheese. Arrange half the asparagus on top; sprinkle 1/4 cup parmesan over the top. Bake for 20 minutes until golden. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature.