I can’t believe it, but the holidays are coming. And when there are holidays, there are parties, and the ever growing need for easy, tasty, fancy seeming food that you can serve your guests. Here’s a beautiful, ridiculously delicious, and easy-to-make asparagus tart that is so freakin’ awesome you’ll want to make it even when you’re not expecting guests.
Now, there are a few trade-offs that make this recipe as easy as it is. The first Pepperidge Farm puff pastry, because it’s a pain the butt to make it from scratch. This stuff is miraculously vegan. The trade-off is that while it might be vegan, the ingredients list is pretty long and contains things like high fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated oil. This doesn’t bother me much, especially since I don’t eat things like this a lot. But I know some of my readers are uncomfortable eating products containing these ingredients at all. For those who aren’t, or don’t mind occasionally consuming something like this, head to the freezer section of your grocery store and pick up the Pepperidge Farm puff pastry sheets. They’re easy to use and only require 40 minutes of defrosting before using.
If you’re interested in making your own vegan puff pastry, there is hope! VeganDad made some beautiful vegan puff pastry simply subbing Earth Balance margarine for butter and following FoodBeam’s thoughtful recipe. Definitely check out both blogs. One day I’m sure I’ll try to make my own puff pastry, but that day is not today. Props to VeganDad for giving me hope that it’s even possible! You, sir, are a gentleman and a scholar.
The other time-saving tips include using canned beans (which I always do anyway, because I’m lazy?) and a pesto concentrate that you can find at Whole Foods (and many other grocery stores) in the pasta/tomato aisle. It’s called Amore Pesto Paste, and the only ingredients are basil, sunflower oil, olive oil, salt, pine nuts, garlic, and citric acid. It’s wonderful to use in all sorts of stuff, so pick up a tube and try it out.
Asparagus Tart with White Bean Pesto
Serves 8 as an appetizer
1 15 oz Can Navy Beans
1/2 tsp Salt
1/4 Heaping Cup Raw Cashews
1 tsp Dijon Mustard
1 Tbs Amore Pesto Paste
2 tsp Fresh Lemon Juice
2 Tbs Soy or Rice Milk, or water
1 lb Fresh Asparagus
1 Puff Pastry Sheet
Salt, Pepper, Olive Oil
Remove 1 puff pastry sheet from the freezer and let it defrost on the counter for 40 minutes on top of parchment paper. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400º F and make the filling.
Drain and rinse the beans, and add them to the work bowl of a food processor. Add of the remaining ingredients except the soymilk (salt through lemon juice). Pulse the food processor, stopping ever few pulses to scrape down the sides and pulse again. You want to break up the beans and the cashews. Once it’s as smooth as you can get it, dribble in the soymilk while the machine is running, as this should help further smooth the mixture.
After 40 minutes of defrosting, carefully unwrap the puff pastry on top of your parchment paper:
Roll the puff pastry out slightly into a rectangle. Then add the white bean pesto mixture, leaving a 1 to 1 1/2 inch border on all sides:
Trim your asparagus so that it fits the tart width-wise. Press the spears into the white bean pesto, alternating their direction so that there are tips and bases next to each other; this one everyone is guaranteed every part of the asparagus after cutting:
With a sharp knife, trim all the edges to they are neat and square. Trim away as little as possible.
Brush the spears with olive oil and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper:
Using the parchment paper, slide the tart onto a baking sheet (don’t remove the tart from the paper). Bake at 400ºF for 25-30 minutes until the tart is puffed and golden brown and the spears are tender. Serve while just warm.
You can reheat this tart in the oven for a few minutes if you have leftovers, but it’s also good at room temperature. Fresh basil is a nice garnish. If you’ve never worked with puff pastry before, this is a great recipe to get your feet wet. It really is easy to use, just as delicious as phyllo dough with none of the stress. And it’s fun to watch it puff!