Puff-Pastry Tartelettes with White Asparagus, Cherry Tomatoes & Bacon
How about this for a fun and different way to enjoy that white asparagus whilst it is still in season... without just boiling it and covering it in Hollandaise! These simple little individual tarteletts are made in the frying pan, in next to no time, and as tasty as can be with finely chopped bacon, cherry tomatoes and nutmeg to compliment their mild flavor... terrific! And together with some of that refreshing cucumber and radish salad- what a Springtime treat!
I always have puff-pastry in the fridge- there is no end to haw many wonderful things you can make with it in next-to-no-time... like these little treats here! And with just a couple of little squares of it, what would otherwise have just been a handful of asparagus became the star of my little supper- and that can only be a good thing!
The ingredients- startling simple and little at that- you don't always need a lot to make a major statement on you plate! Some small asparagus stalks- 19 in all to be precise :-) , a handful of finely chopped bacon, a handful of cherry tomatoes and a little parsley. Ta-da! And with 2 little 5"x5" squares of puff-pastry, that is all you are going to need to make 2 people happy :-)
The size of your pastry base of course will depend on the length of your asparagus stalks. Peel and trim the ends off first and then cut the pastry to size at just a couple of inches larger, allowing for the outside edges to puff-up during baking.
Fry the asparagus together with the bacon in a dry non-stick pan- you do not need any extra fat other than that in the bacon and the butter in the puff-pastry, trust me Grate generously with nutmeg, sprinkle with pepper and fry until the bacon bits begin to get crispy, then deglaze the pan with just a splash of water and put on the lid for a minute or two. That little blast of steam is enough to make sure the asparagus is cooked through but still has plenty of bite. remove the lid and withing a minute or so the excess water and steam will evaporate away. Set on a plate to cool and rinse off the pan... you will be needing it again shortly!
Add the finely chopped parsley after the asparagus and bacon have cooled off a little, so that it retains its flavor and color better before arranging the tarts.
Putting the tarts together is simple- lay out your square of pastry, then the finely sliced cherry tomatoes and then arrange the asparagus stalks on top, leaving at least an inch of pastry around the edge of them. Sprinkle all over with the bacon bits and turn on the heat for 3-4 minutes, until the edges of the pastry first become transparent and then slowly begin to rise as it begins to "bake"... then transfer to the oven to finish baking at 200°C for 5-10 minutes until puffy and golden.
I always use the simple trick of covering the handle of my pan with foil when I do this trick- it is only in the oven for 10 minutes at the most and is perfectly safe. The benefit of starting the pastry on the stove top is that it ensures that the pastry gets good heat from below and will be crispy and firm and not end up being soggy from the topping.
And there you go! A picture-perfect little pastry- no stress, no hassle- no kidding! Sometimes people go to a whole lot of trouble to make something to impress their friends with... but sometimes something simple may work just as well- if not better!