Spring-time means fresh asparagus and this vegetarian dish is a great way to display bright green asparagus spears. I think this dish is also a nice change-of-season dish incorporating the starchy potatoes we tend to use a lot of in winter, and showcasing the vibrant green asparagus of spring.
We were lucky to have locally grown Hawke’s Bay ‘first of the season’ asparagus, which was juicy and tender.
Wine match: Mum and I had a light, sparkling, Lindauer Sauvignon to go with this dish and it suited the flavours in the tart beautifully.
150g plain flour
40g finely ground instant polenta
150g chilled butter, chopped
1 tbsp cold water
¼ tspn salt
4 tart tins, loose-based (10cm or 12cm diameter) [Please read the notes on the tart tins at the end of this recipe]
- Place flour, polenta, and butter in a food processor. Process until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add egg and water and process until dough forms.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and shape into a disc. Wrap in plastic cling film or baking paper and chill for 20 minutes.
FILLING FOR THE POLENTA PASTRY TARTS
200g potatoes (all-purpose potatoes are best)
¼ cup chopped mint, plus extra whole leaves for garnish
Juice and finely grated zest of ½ a lemon
1 egg, lightly beaten
½ tbsp olive oil
1 shallot, finely diced
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 bunch of asparagus, trimmed
25g feta cheese, crumbled, for garnish
Salt and pepper, to taste
- Halve the potatoes and cook in a pot of boiling water for 20 minutes, or until tender. Drain. Coarsely chop.
- In a large bowl, add the potato, ricotta, mint, eggs, lemon zest and juice, and salt and pepper. Mix together.
- Roll out polenta pastry on a lightly floured surface until 3mm thick. Cut out rounds of pastry to the measurements of the tart tins. Line the tins with pastry, and trim pastry edges. Chill for 10 minutes.
- Divide the potato mixture between the chilled tart bases. Bake for 20-25 minutes at 190 degrees Celsius until filling is set.
- Fill a large frying pan with water and bring to boil. Place asparagus spears in water and cook until just tender.
- Heat oil in another frying pan and cook shallot until softened, then add garlic, and cook until fragrant, but not browned.
- Drain asparagus and cut into thirds.
- Place shallots and garlic, asparagus, salt and pepper, on top of the cooked tarts. Garnish with mint leaves and crumbled feta.
COOK’S NOTES on the tart tins:
- If the tin is 10cm, cut out 12cm rounds of pastry, and if the tin is 12cm, cut out 14cm rounds to allow enough to come up the edges of the tin.
- If the tart tins have removable bases, spray whole tin with cooking oil. If the tart tins do not have removable bases, cut a circle of baking paper to line the base of the tin.
- Place tarts on a baking tray in the oven to catch the butter from the pastry that may bubble out under the removable base, or over the edges.
Polenta pastry in the dishes:
Filled polenta pastry cases ready for the oven:
ASPARAGUS, MASHED POTATO TART WITH POLENTA PASTRY (A variation on the above recipe)
There was enough pastry leftover to make up another tart case. We had some leftover mashed potato in the fridge from a previous nights dinner, so we put together a quick filling for this last polenta case and baked it in the oven with the others.
The mashed potato filled polenta pastry case. Who would know the difference? It tasted just as good as the above potato and ricotta version, and was quicker to make!
1 egg, beaten
Tasty cheese, grated
Mix together, and when cooked, top with boiled asparagus.
The idea came from New Zealand Taste magazine, October 2014 issue, where the Asparagus, Potato and Ricotta Tarts with Polenta Pastry featured on the cover.