Spring Asparagus, Pea & Zucchini Tart with Light Herb Mayo


Morning all. God what a weird few weeks, first Trump elected President in the states and then earthquakes here in New Zealand. I don't remember us having such regular 'shaky isles' in the past, and feel so sorry for anyone having to live with both the fear during the quakes, and the crappy aftermath of cleaning up and trying to keep going. I can't believe there are sh*ts that would steal from houses left empty during this time, but know that the number of good people lending a hand outnumber them by miles. If you are living in a quake-affected area, one easy way to help (if you are able) is to get cooking or baking - a warm meal or a piece of cake and a cup of tea seem insignificant, but in that moment they do bring a sense of normality and pleasure to the recipient. There are hundreds of recipes right here for a bit of neighbourly inspiration, just head to the index page for the run down if you feel inclined :)

Despite the fact that the weather is still bloody dismal, this spring asparagus, pea & zucchini tart could be a good place to start. It is a recipe I put together for Fairfax (so appearing in newspapers around the country today), and is super-easy with a soft savoury feta and cream cheesy filling, brightened with lemon, a wee hint of garlic and fresh veges. I like to serve it with ripe cherry tomatoes and a herby pea mayo on the side. If you can't be faffed making the pastry (but it is a reaaaally good one...) just use store bought savoury short pastry instead. Wherever you are, I hope the rest of your week goes well, and I'll see you back here at the weekend!





Tart pastry:
1 1/3 cups plain flour
100g cold butter, chopped
1/3 cup (30 grams) grated Parmesan
½ teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 egg yolk
1 ½ - 2 teaspoons iced water

Filling:
250grams cream cheese, at room temperature, roughly chopped
200grams feta, roughly chopped
3 eggs
2 egg yolks
1 clove garlic crushed
finely rated zest of 1 lemon
1 cup peas (1/3 cup reserved for dressing)
10 young asparagus, halved
1 zucchini, sliced
1 ½ cups cherry tomatoes, halved, to serve

Put the flour, butter, Parmesan, salt and pepper in a food processor and whiz until well combined. Add the egg yolk and water and pulse until the mixture starts to come together. Tip out onto a clean bench and squish and pat into a round. Cover the pastry in plastic wrap and leave it to rest for half an hour. This pastry is quite crumbly so you will need to roll it out between two sheets of baking paper. It will crack and break up a little but once you have maneuvered it into the tin, just patch the torn bits together. Refrigerate the base while the oven preheats to 180˚C and you make the filling. Wipe out the food processor and put in the cream cheese, feta, eggs, yolks, garlic and zest and whiz until the filling is smooth. Pour boiling water over the peas, leave for 1 minute then then drain well in a sieve. Cut a circle of baking paper 3cm bigger than the tart tin (25cm removable base tart tin) and put into the chilled pastry, fill with baking beans or rice and cook for 10 minutes. Remove the beans or rice and cook the base for a further 12 minutes. Pour the filling into the base and scatter in the asparagus, sliced zucchini and 2/3 cup of the drained peas. Bake for 30-35 minutes until just set. Leave the tart to cool for 10 minutes before removing from the tin and serving with the herb and pea mayo and a side of cherry tomatoes.

Mayo:
1/3 cup peas* (see tart recipe)
½ cup god quality egg mayonnaise
½ cup natural Greek yoghurt
½ cup mint leaves
½ cup basil leaves
¼ cup parsley leaves
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
1 small clove garlic

Whiz all of the ingredients together in a food processor until smooth. Refrigerate in a covered container until ready to serve. This mayo is also great with fish, in chicken sandwiches or as a light dip with fresh baby spring vegetables.

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