Rhubarb and Asparagus Tart

This country style tart was inspired by seeing the display of freshly picked rhubarb and purple asparagus next to each other at the farmer’s stall of the Green City Market.  

 The combination of rhubarb and asparagus is enhanced by the refreshing and fragrant tastes of lemon, thyme and cardamom with a bit of honey to sweeten the tartness of the rhubarb.

The olive oil crust, gluten free, includes lemon zest to echoe the fresh balance of flavors of the filling.  

Ingredients for the crust:

  • 2 cups gluten free flour
  • 1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp hot water
  • 2 pinch sea salt
  • Zest of 1 organic lemon

For the filling:

  • 250 g/9 oz fresh rhubarb
  • 250 g/9 oz purple asparagus
  • 1 lemon zest and juice
  • 1/4 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp honey
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp gluten free flour
  • 5 g/ 1/4 oz thyme
  • 1 pinch salt

  Preheat oven 375F 

  Start by washing the asparagus and cut the tips at an angle.  If some of the tips are larger than others, cut them in half, lengthwise. Reserve.   Cut the remaining stalks of the asparagus in small pieces.   Wash the rhubarb and cut thick slices similar in size to the asparagus. There is no need to peel the rhubarb. Be sure to discard the green leafy parts as it is toxic.   Place rhubarb and asparagus in a bowl.   Remove the thyme leaves from the stems. Discard the stems. Reserve the leaves.   When making a gluten free crust, personally I like to use Bob’s Red Mill gluten free all purpose baking flour. Here I’ll use it for the filling as well.   Add the thyme leaves, honey, salt, ground cardamom, GF flour and olive oil to the bowl.  Zest the organic lemon with a micro plane and add to the mixture.   Add the lemon juice and toss. Set aside for the flavors to infuse.   Prepare a well with the gluten free flour and add salt and lemon zest.   Then add the olive oil and hot water.   Using one hand, slowly incorporate the flour and liquid mixture.   The final crust will be crumbly.   Form it into a flattened ball.   Using s pastry rolling pin, start to roll out the dough, rolling back and forth to elongate the crust.   Using a pastry scraper, lift the crust from the surface and turn it 1/4 turn.   Continue to roll out the dough, turning it 1/4 turn as soon as it is elongated into an oval, until you have a round shape that is large enough to fit the tart dish Bottom and sides.   Line the tart dish with the crust. The nature of the gluten free crust is to break into pieces. Simply patch it back together as it is very forgiving.   Place the rhubarb-asparagus mixture on the crust.   Arange the asparagus tips on top. And place in the oven, lowering the temperature to 350F. Bake for 45 minutes.   When the tart is baked, drizzle a little olive oil and sprinkle some fleur de sel. Wait a few minutes before cutting.  Enjoy!

Advertisements

Chilled Asparagus Soup with fresh Basil

Chilled soups are always refreshing in summer. This recipe is a non-dairy creamy soup, basically puréed with almond milk. It is particularly popular with friends who have dairy restrictions in their diet, or people who simply enjoy a lighter version of creamy soups.

20130630-115840.jpg The chilled asparagus tend to have a more delicate flavor when mixed with potatoes which act as the binding agent in the soup. If you wish to enhance the asparagus taste of the soup, add a little cumin (optional).

20130630-115930.jpg Ingredients:
2 lbs asparagus
1 large shallot
2-3 small potatoes
1/2 jalapeño pepper
2 garlic cloves
1.5 oz fresh basil
1/4-1/2 tsp cumin (optional)
2 cups water
2 cups almond milk
2 Tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Lemon rind for decoration

20130630-145516.jpg Remove the seeds and white/silver lining of the inside of the jalapeño pepper

20130630-145651.jpg Cut the jalapeño in strips and dice finely.

20130630-150113.jpg Peel, crush and chop the garlic finely. Peel the shallot preserving the roots to hold it while chopping. Slice it horizontally, almost reaching the roots, then vertically like an onion, and finally, chop it vertically again but in a perpendicular direction.

20130630-150230.jpg Heat about 2 Tbsp of olive oil in a large pot and add the chopped jalapeño, garlic and shallot. Lower the heat and simmer for a few minutes. You might add the cumin at this time if using.

20130630-150343.jpgWash, peel, and slice the potatoes. Cut them in sticks and dice them in small even pieces so they cook faster and evenly.

20130630-152557.jpgAdd potatoes to the pot and continue cooking on low heat.

20130630-152644.jpgIf the ends of the asparagus are thick and woody, it is best to snap the ends off between your fingers rather than cutting them with a knife. By snapping them, they naturally break off at the point where the tender part of the asparagus meets the woody part. Discard the woody parts.

20130630-153925.jpgThen, trim the tips by slicing them individually at a diagonal to preserve a naturally elongated design.

20130630-154010.jpg Cut the asparagus stems in about 1-inch pieces, add them to the pot along with 2 cups of water and moderate salt. Bring to a oil, lower the heat and simmer about for 8-10 minutes, until the asparagus stems are cooked.

20130630-155308.jpg Separately, bring a small pot of generously salted water to a boil and plunge the asparagus tips for a few minutes until they begin to be tender yet slightly firm to the touch.

20130630-190438.jpgRemove the asparagus tips from the boiling water and place them immediately in an ice bath. This will stop the cooking and preserve their bright green color.

20130630-190515.jpgDrain them as soon as they are cool and reserve.

20130630-191527.jpgOnce the asparagus stems and potatoes are cooked, place in a food processor fitted with a steel blade.

20130630-191608.jpgProcess until smooth and let cool a few minutes.

20130630-191647.jpgAdd the basil leaves at this time and process further until the leaves are incorporated into small pieces into the soup.

20130630-191728.jpgAdd the almond milk one cup at a time and process to blend perfectly.

20130630-191800.jpgPour into a bowl, cover and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.

20130630-191842.jpg Meanwhile, cut a long piece of lemon rind with a small pairing knife.

20130630-192342.jpgRemove the extra pith (white part) that might be left attached to the rind.

20130630-192422.jpgCut thin strips (‘julienne’) and reserve.

20130630-192459.jpgSet up the lemon rind and asparagus tips to serve.

20130630-192602.jpg When pulling the chilled asparagus soup from the refrigerator, check for seasoning, add salt and cumin if necessary, and some finely ground black pepper. Place a ladle a of chilled asparagus soup in individual bowls or cups, decorate with the asparagus tips and lemon rind strips.

20130630-192643.jpgChilled asparagus soup, here served with a grilled fig. Enjoy!

Asparagus with Salmon Caviar and Black Olive Vinaigrette

An appetizing and colorful plate, amazingly simple to put together for a light lunch or an appetizer for a dinner.

20130621-210006.jpg A beautiful way to serve asparagus. In this version, I paired them with a hen egg, but you can certainly use quail eggs if available. The salmon roe is easy to handle for decoration and brings a burst of brilliant color that compliments the green asparagus, the black olives, and the white and yellow eggs.

20130621-214657.jpg Ingredients:
2 lb asparagus
8 black olives, preferably dry cured in oil and herbs.
1 – 1.5 oz salmon caviar
4 hen eggs (or a dozen quail eggs) at room temperature
1/4 cup grape seed oil
1/2 tsp white balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
A bunch of chives
Salt and pepper

20130621-214739.jpg Wash and trim the asparagus, removing the ‘woody’ ends.

20130621-214817.jpg Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil and throw in the asparagus. The salt content helps develop a beautiful green color. In addition, you might let the asparagus bathe in a bowl of ice water prior to placing them in the boiling pot, as going from the icy cold to the boiling hot temperatures will also help develop a more vibrant green color to the vegetables. Cook until tender.

20130621-214915.jpg When ready, immediately plunge them in an ice water bowl to stop the cooking process and so that they retain their beautiful green color. Drain once cool to the touch.

20130621-215006.jpg Meanwhile, bring a smaller saucepan of water to a boil and carefully place the room temperature eggs into the boiling water using a slotted spoon. Cook in rolling water for precisely 3 minutes.

20130621-215114.jpg Then place the eggs in ice water to stop the cooking process. Once cooled, gently break the shell to remove. This process needs to be tended carefully as the eggs are soft, not hard, and you want to be sure not to inadvertently break them open as the yolk should still be runny.

20130621-215310.jpg In a small bowl, prepare the black olive vinaigrette. Place the mustard, salt, freshly ground pepper in the bowl. Mix well.

20130621-215403.jpg Dilute the mustard by adding the vinegar and mixing thoroughly.

20130621-215452.jpg Add the grape seed oil and whisk together to fully homogenize the ingredients.

20130621-215556.jpg Pit and chop the black olives finely.

20130621-215637.jpg Incorporate into the vinaigrette.

20130621-215734.jpg Chop the chives, reserving the tapering tips for decoration.

20130621-215826.jpg Salmon caviar, or sometimes called salmon roe, is highly perishable and must be refrigerated until the time you are ready to serve the plates.

20130621-215927.jpg Prepare the plates by arranging the asparagus as a bed on the bottom. Drizzle with the black olive vinaigrette and sprinkle with chives. Place a small spoonful of salmon caviar to the side, carefully displaying some of the eggs artfully around. Set the soft boiled hen egg to the side.

20130621-220022.jpg Cut open the soft boiled egg to unveil a perfectly cooked white and runny yolk. Finish with the chives tips and serve at once. Enjoy!