Make the most of the short asparagus season with this delicious Asparagus tart

This recipe is taken from Delia Smith’s Vegetarian Collection. It’s great to share with friends and family for a simple lunch alfresco or is a welcome addition to any picnic.

12 oz (350 g) asparagus
1½ oz (40 g) Cheddar cheese, finely grated
1 level tablespoon freshly grated Parmesan
2 large eggs, beaten
284 ml carton single cream
salt and freshly milled black pepper
For the pastry:
1 oz (25 g) butter
1 oz (25 g) lard
4 oz (110 g) plain flour
1 oz (25 g) Cheddar cheese, finely grated
a pinch of salt

Serves 6

  1. Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 4, 350°F (180°C). Lightly grease a 7½ inch (19 cm) flan tin with fluted edges and a removable base
  2. Begin by making the pastry – rub the butter and lard lightly into the flour, then add the cheese and salt, plus enough cold water to make a smooth dough – about a tablespoon.  Place the dough in a plastic food bag to rest in the fridge for 20 minutes.
  3. After that, roll it out and line the tin with it, being careful to press the dough firmly into the tin. Prick the base all over with a fork, then bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and paint the inside of it with a little of the beaten egg (from the filling ingredients) and let it cook for a further 5 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, prepare the asparagus. Take each stalk in both hands and bend and snap off the woody end, before placing in a steamer and steaming over simmering water for 4-5 minutes (to half-cook the spears). Then chop each spear into 1½ inch (4 cm) lengths and arrange them over the base of the pre-baked pastry case.
  5. Next, beat the eggs together with the cream and grated Cheddar cheese, season with salt and pepper, then pour this mixture over the asparagus. Sprinkle the Parmesan over the top.
  6. Place the tart on a baking sheet and cook for 30-40 minutes – until the centre feels firm and the filling is golden brown and puffy. Serve warm or cold with a green salad
Tip: If you are short of time, use pre-packed shortcrust pastry as an alternative