Herby Freekeh Salad with Asparagus, Peas, & Citrus Vinaigrette (V, Vegetarian)

March 25, 2017

Creamy Stuffed Shells with Kale, Olives & Homemade Tomato Sauce (Vegetarian, Vegan/GF Friendly)

March 25, 2017

Spring Forest Tart with Asparagus, Peas, & Arugula (Vegetarian)

March 25, 2017

Happy Spring, fine people!  We just got back from the skate park since my son is crazy obsessed with skateboarding at the moment.  Tiny skaters are the best thing since sliced bread in my opinion.  Watching him go up and down giant ramps while doing tricks gives me so much joy and also makes me extremely terrified as his mother.  I guess there could be worse things that he could be into, like skydiving or motor-cross.  At least there are no great heights or engines involved or I would need to be on some serious medication to watch.

For me, cooking is more my speed and I came home and created this Spring Forest Tart with all the beautiful Spring produce that is showing up in the farmers markets as of late.  I love to wander around the farmer’s markets for hours just staring at all of the beautiful food, while imagining what I can make.  I love how asparagus looks like little trees and I thought how fun it would be to make them into a forest like creation.  I grabbed a bunch of asparagus, fresh peas, arugula, and some edible roses and came home and quickly whipped up this tart for a dinner party we were invited to.  The veggies rest on a crisp layer of puff pastry and creamy goat cheese and is the perfect contrast to the fresh veggies.  I added a touch of earthy superfood Chaga (a mushroom flavored powder used in Chinese medicine as an anti-aging product), but you could omit this if you’d like.

If you’ve followed me for some time, you will remember my tart from the Fall (featured by Food & Wine Magazine) using ingredients that were in season back then like butternut squash and brussels sprouts.  This tart is easy, yet impressive as an appetizer, and would be perfect for your upcoming Easter brunches you may have planned.  Puff pastry is admittedly not the healthiest of foods, but I always have it in my freezer for those last-minute gatherings that seem to happen to us so frequently. I love how quick this is to make (clocking in under 25 minutes) and how it looks like a picture frame filled with beautiful edible art!  You can fill yours with anything you like, sweet or savory and you could even drizzle it with a little aged balsamic if you feel like getting extra fancy!

A lovely addition to your Easter Brunch, this tart is filled with the flavors of Spring!

Ingredients

1 puff pastry square (thawed according to package directions)

1 bunch asparagus (ends trimmed off)

1/4 cup fresh peas

1 cup arugula

4 oz. goat cheese

2 T cream cheese

Juice 1/2 lemon

1 T chaga powder (optional but gives it a slight mushroom flavor-I used Root and Bones brand)

2 T pine nuts

1 T edible Roses (optional)

Pre heat oven to 400 F.

Take your thawed puff pastry and put it on a baking sheet with some parchment or non stick paper. With a knife, score a 1 inch border around the edge of the puff pasty (be careful not to cut all the way through down to the bottom).  Use a fork to prick the inside several times  (about 10 x’s all around) with a fork (do not prick the border). Bake according to package directions (mine took about 20 minutes) or until golden brown.  When you remove from oven, the whole puff pastry might puff up, but you can gently push down the middle with a spoon, leaving the outside border raised.  If the middle sticks to the border while you are pushing it down, you can use a knife to gently release the middle section away from the border.

Puff pastry pre bake.

Puff pastry post bake.

Toss the asparagus in a little olive oil to coat and place on a separate baking sheet.  Cook in the oven with the puff pastry for 10- 12 minutes or until tender.

While the asparagus and puff pastry are cooking, prepare the goat cheese spread.  In a food processor, mix the goat cheese, cream cheese, lemon juice, and Chaga powder (if using). Set aside.

Once the puff pastry has cooked, cool at room temp for at least a half hour.  Then spread on the goat cheese mixture, top with a bed of arugula, asparagus, peas (I didn’t cook mine, but you could blanch yours in some boiling water for a few minutes if you’d like) and edible flowers.  I topped mine with some additional crumbled goat cheese and pine nuts. Serve at room temperature or bake in a 350 F oven for 5 minutes or until warmed through.