I’ve been really into brunch the past few weeks. Life has felt a bit frantic lately and carving out time for a leisurely morning meal on the weekends is a good way to make the day at least feel like it’s stretched out in front of you, even if the minute your plate is empty you’ve got to run off and go about other business.
This tart is the latest addition to my brunch repertoire. It’s basically a compact quiche that’s heavy on green vegetables and goat cheese. Spinach is whisked into an eggy custard, topped with spears of asparagus and rounds of chèvre, and baked in a flaky crust. It’s a great thing to linger over with a second cup of coffee on a spring morning or, should the weather cooperate, perfect for a patio lunch with a salad and a glass of wine.
Ready? Let’s brunch! We’ll start by making the tart crust. Pulse flour, salt, and a pinch of sugar with cold cubes of butter until it looks coarse and gravelly. Work in cold water until the dough starts to form clumps, then smooth it together, wrap it in plastic, and pop it in the refrigerator to chill.
After chilling, roll the tart dough into a circle, fit it into a tart pan, and trim the edges. Pop the tart shell in the freezer for a little while before you bake it to minimize shrinkage. You could certainly do this all ahead of time.
Bake the tart shell then assemble your ingredients for the filling while it cools.
Whisk together a couple of eggs and a bit of heavy cream with a handful of grated Parmesan and lemon zest. Blanch and towel-dry your asparagus, slice a log of goat cheese, and then put it all together.
I left my asparagus spears long and tried to get all fancy, arranging them in an off-centered pinwheel. The tart would have been easier to slice and eat if I’d cut the spears in smaller pieces. Form or function? Always a dilemma.
Bake the tart until the custard sets and the rounds of chèvre are slightly golden. Cut the tart into wedges, serve, and enjoy. Linger. That other stuff can wait–this is just as important.
- For the Tart Crust:
- 1¼ c. All-Purpose Flour
- ½ tsp. Salt
- ½ tsp. Sugar
- ½ c. (1 stick) Unsalted Butter, cut into small pieces and very cold)
- about 3 Tbsp. Ice Water
- For the Tart Filling:
- ½ bunch Asparagus, tough ends snapped off
- 3 Eggs
- ½ c. Heavy Cream
- ½ c. grated Parmesan Cheese
- zest of ½ Lemon
- 1 10 oz. box Frozen Spinach, thawed and squeezed until very dry
- 4 oz. log Chèvre, cut in 8 slices
- First make the dough for the tart crust. Combine flour, salt, and sugar in the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times to combine. Scatter the butter pieces over the flour and pulse 10-12 times until the most of the butter pieces are about the size of a pea. With the motor running, pour the water down the feed tube and process just until the dough starts to clump together. Dump the dough out, knead briefly until the bits stick together. Pat the dough into a disk shape, wrap tightly with plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour.
- After the dough has chilled, roll it out to fit a 9 inch tart pan with removable bottom. Press the dough into the pan and trim the edges. Chill the tart shell for at least 30 minutes.
- When you're ready to bake the tart shell, preheat the oven to 375°. Line the tart shell with a piece of parchment paper and fill with dried beans or pie weights. Place on a baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes, then remove the weights and parchment and bake until the tart shell is light golden, about 15 minutes longer. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack while you prepare the filling.
- Blanch the asparagus. Bring a medium saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the asparagus spears and cook until they are very bright green and crisp-tender, 2-3 minutes. Remove and shock in a bowl of ice water to stop them from cooking any further. Pull the spears out of the water and towel them dry. You can leave them whole or cut them into bite-sized pieces.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, cream, about ½ tsp. salt, and a few twists of black pepper. Add the Parmesan, lemon zest, and spinach (be sure you have squeezed out as much moisture as humanly possible) and stir to combine.
- Place the cooled crust on a baking sheet. Pour the egg and spinach mixture into the crust. Arrange the blanched asparagus on top and place the rounds of chèvre over the asparagus.
- Bake at 375° until the the filling is set in the center, about 30 minutes. Allow to cool slightly (or to room temperature, if you prefer) before cutting.
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