Make the most of delicious seasonal asparagus with this wonderfully fresh-tasting tart – serve with a crunchy green salad for a tasty lunch or supper
- For the pastry:
- 175g plain white flour
- Salt and ground black pepper
- 75g chilled butter
- 1 medium egg, separated
- For the filling:
- 100g bunch asparagus tips, about 16 spears, trimmed
- 8 baby plum tomatoes, halved
- 1 clove garlic, peeled and finely chopped
- A few sprigs of fresh tarragon or oregano
- 2tbsp olive oil
- 15g Parmesan cheese
- 250g tub mascarpone cheese
- 4 medium eggs
- 35 x 12cm tin, or a 23cm round tin
To make the pastry: Sift the flour and a pinch of salt into a bowl. Shave in the butter, then rub it in. Whisk the egg yolk with 3tbsp cold water, stir in with a round-bladed knife to make a dough. (Or make pastry in a food processor.) Knead together lightly and form into an oblong. Wrap in cling film, chill for 30 mins.
Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface. Line the tin, bringing the pastry about 5mm up above the edge. Prick the base, then chill it, while the oven heats up to gas mark 6 or 200°C. Line the pastry case with Bakewell paper and baking beans. Bake for 10 mins near the bottom of the oven.
Take out the paper and beans, and bake for another 10 mins to set the pastry. Beat the egg white and brush a little over the pastry. Put back in the oven for 5 mins.
Meanwhile, put the asparagus and halved tomatoes, skin-side down, on a baking tray. Scatter with garlic and tuck in the tarragon or oregano. Season and drizzle with the oil, and roast for 15 mins, above the pastry case. Set aside.
Lower the oven temperature to gas mark 5 or 190°C. Sprinkle half the Parmesan on the base of the flan. Beat the mascarpone in a large bowl to soften it, then beat in the eggs with some seasoning. Pour into the flan case, then arrange the asparagus and tomatoes in the flan, pushing them down gently. Sprinkle with the rest of the Parmesan cheese.
Bake for 35 mins until just set. Leave for 5 mins to cool. Take out of the tin and serve warm or cold, with a salad.
Put the flan case on a baking sheet before you add the filling, just in case it spills as you place it in the oven. It will be quite full and will rise up near the end of cooking.