The hero harvest this week is asparagus. But don’t imagine that’s because I like it. I mean, I love to eatit, sure. But asparagus is, in my view, petulant. I wouldn’t grow it if you paid me. In fact, I was paid to look after a bed of it once when I was working in an organic kitchen garden and it was enough to put me off for life.

Those who manage it will tell you growing asparagus easy and very little work. But these are the chosen few; the sort of blessed people who have acres of growing space, lots of time, beautifully sandy soil and no bindweed. Us mortals growing in limited space on imperfect soil that’s full of weeds will find asparagus hard going. Asparagus likes its own room: lots of space to expand and stay in the ground all year. It doesn’t share well: hates weeds but you can’t hoe around it because the roots are very shallow and a hoe will damage them. Plus, asparagus a wimp: if its feet are damp or in anything other than very free-draining soil it will throw a wobbly. No, asparagus resembles a spoiled toddler far too much for me to entertain growing it.


Asparagus tart with prosciutto ham and quails egg

Still, once it’s in the kitchen I couldn’t be happier and asparagus and I are great friends. It’s particularly good paired with hams or any sort and/or eggs and in this simple tart I’ve done both…

(Incidentally, there will be a raw ribboned asparagus salad with pine nuts, extra virgin olive oil and parmesan for starter at my next supper club in Chipping Norton on Friday 24thMay. There are a few spaces left and if you’d like to come I’d be thrilled. This is an extra-special because it’s in partnership with Filippo Berio and guests will be heading home with a party bag of organic olive oils. Full menu and booking here.)


Asparagus tart with prosciutto and quails' eggs

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Serves: Serves 2

Asparagus tart with prosciutto and quails' eggs

A beautiful spring tart which looks glitzy on the plate but is super simple to make. A brilliant way to make a hero of the asparagus harvest

  • ½ a 325g sheet of ready-rolled all-butter puff pastry
  • 1 tbsp crème fraiche
  • 6-8 asparagus spears
  • 2 slices prosciutto ham, torn into small pieces
  • Drizzle of olive oil
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • 6 quails’ eggs
  • A few herbs to serve
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 210C.
  2. Cut the pastry sheet in half so you have 2 rectangles and place them on a lined baking tray. Score a line around the sheet 1cm in from each edge of the sheet to create a border. This is your crust. Prick the scored rectangle in the middle of the sheet with a fork to stop it puffing up when cooked.
  3. Trim the ends off the asparagus so the spears fit into the scored rectangle then cut them lengthways into halves (or thirds if they’re really thick).
  4. Remove the woody stubs from the leftover asparagus ends and chop what’s left very finely. Mix these choppings with the crème fraiche and a pinch of salt.
  5. Spread the crème fraiche mixture over the centre of each tart. Make sure you go right up to the scored border but not over it. Next, lay the asparagus spears on top of the crème fraiche, tucking in pieces of prosciutto haphazardly as you go. Drizzle a little olive oil over the asparagus and brush the pastry border with milk. Transfer the tarts to the oven.
  6. After 15 minutes remove the tarts and break 3 quails’ eggs onto each tart. If you can create a little divot in amongst the asparagus for the eggs then they will sit neatly rather than spread everywhere. I find it easiest to break an egg into a small ramekin then tip it onto the tart. Drizzle each yolk with a little olive oil then return to the oven for 3-4 minutes or until the white is set.
  7. Remove from the oven, top with a handful of herbs and serve.
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