Early Spring Cooking: Asparagus Tarts

In some parts of the country, asparagus are already popping up in the market; we know from this post that many of you are happily eating them right this very minute. Here in New York, the asparagus we see are still from California, but hey, it beats Peru. So if you've got 'em, may we suggest a very easy, very quick way to show them off? We're dying for one of these simple asparagus tarts, made with store-bought puff pastry...

You could certainly make a savory tart crust from scratch; the recipe below from Emeril has instructions for just that. But a frozen puff pastry bakes up into such lovely, buttery layers... It's hard to resist.

These tarts can be as complicated or as basic as you want. Most involve nothing more than beating together some egg and cheese and pouring them over blanched asparagus that have been lined up like little soldiers on top of the pastry. Add bacon or slices of ham, and you've got a full meal. We also think one of these tarts would be a great appetizer if you cut it into squares.

Some recipes to check out:
Asparagus-Ricotta Tart with Comte Cheese, from Bon Appétit (above)
Asparagus Gruyere Tart, from Everyday Food (below)
Asparagus Tart with Vacherin Cheese, from Emeril Lagasse
Asparagus and Strawberry Tart (a very intriguing combination), at La Tartine Gourmande

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Related: Quick Tip: How To Trim Asparagus

(Images: Coral Von Zumwalt for Bon Appétit; MarthaStewart.com)

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