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Dorothy Dean presents: Asparagus shines in spring tart

Think spring - and green - with this stunning asparagus-mascarpone tart. (Audrey Alfaro)
By Audrey Alfaro For The Spokesman-Review

With grocery stores stocked with fresh, vibrant green asparagus, I find myself loading bunches of it into my cart.

Asparagus is a favorite of mine because of its versatility. Whether it’s roasted, sautéed, grilled, puréed or even raw, its bright, clean flavor and earthy undertones pair well with just about anything.

Especially ham and cheese.

Top that on a buttery, flaky crust, and it’s a divine combination that creates this savory, satisfying and gorgeous spring tart.

Plus, it’s breeze to whip up.

The base of this tart is store-bought puff pastry, so you basically just have to unroll it. Then, it’s slathered with a mixture of mascarpone cheese, ham, lemon juice, parsley and sautéed onions, which add saltiness, zing and a refreshing taste.

And the star of the show, asparagus, offers a flavorful, crisp-tender texture that pairs perfectly with the creamy filling and rich, delicate crust.

Served hot or cold, this asparagus-mascarpone tart would pair nicely with a salad or creamy soup. Or, add it to your appetizer spread or as a main for any brunch. It’s a delightful tart that’s sure to deliver on presentation and flavor.

Asparagus-Mascarpone Tart

Adapted from

1 sheet puff pastry, thawed

1 tablespoon flour, for dusting

1 egg, beaten

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1/3 cup minced onion

3 ounces ham (about 3 slices)

8 ounces mascarpone cheese

1/2 lemon, fresh squeezed juice

1 tablespoon parsley, chopped

1 bunch asparagus, ends trimmed

1 tablespoon olive oil

Salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone mat.

Roll out the puff pastry, on a lightly floured work surface, to a 9-by-12-inch even rectangle. Transfer to baking sheet. Using the tip of a knife, lightly score a 3/4-inch border around the edges of the rectangle, without cutting all the way through. With a fork, prick the center rectangle all over. Brush with beaten egg and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.

In a frying pan, melt butter over medium heat and cook onion until softened, about 3 minutes. Cool slightly. Finely chop ham in a food processor. Add onion, mascarpone, lemon juice and parsley, then pulse to just combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Spread mixture within the border of puff pastry rectangle. In a bowl, toss the asparagus with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Lay half of the asparagus in a row across the surface of the tart, keeping the mixture within the border. Do the same in the opposite direction with the remaining asparagus. Place back in oven and bake for about 15 minutes, or until pastry is golden and puffed. Let cool 5 minutes before serving.