Jamie Oliver’s Asparagus and Potato Tart

San Francisco is beautiful no matter where you are in it. But the charm of the San Francisco Bay is unbeatable. Last weekend was bright and sunny and demanded a break out in the open. While Amey took a break from his day and flew his kite……

….I took a walk and watched the world shed its winter overcoat and come alive. There were fathers and sons checking out the grass and walks…

…while others lazed about, soaking up the sun….some walked energetically among the rocks while Sausalito slumbered beyond…

……some boats forlornly waited in the Marina, waiting to be unleashed on the teal blue sea..

…while other beautiful little sail boats set out on the first sail of the season….

….further down at China Beach, there were much larger ships going about their business, dotting the bay with their delightful mosaic….

…while up on the beach, dogs ambled about sniffing each other amiably, wagging their tails in gleeful recognition…

When I came back to the green, the flying kites were joined by quizzical birds tentatively trying to communicate but inevitably shearing off in fright…..

….and we went home happy in the knowledge that there a sunny lunch waiting for us there in the form of a super delicious asparagus and potato tart.

I saw the recipe for this tart on Food Network and Jamie Oliver’s ‘Jamie at home’. There is beautiful asparagus in the market right now. I haven’t worked with filo pastry for a while now so was eager to try it again as well. Filo dough is raw, unleavened dough sold in tissue thin sheets that you have to work with very quickly or they can dry out. They are used largely in Middle Eastern cooking. The crusty pastry provided a beautiful counter-texture to the softness of the potato and the soft crunch of the cooked asparagus. I added some chives, garlic and chilli flakes to the egg and potato mixture which added a nice soft heat and zing to the overall flavour.

Asparagus and Potato Tart
Adapted from Jamie at home via Food Network.

Potatoes – 1 pound, peeled
Asparagus – 1 pound, spears with woody ends removed
Filo pastry – 8 oz
Butter – 1/4 cup, melted
Gouda – 1/2 cup, shredded
Sharp Vermont Cheddar – 1/4 cup shredded
Eggs – 3 large
Half-and-half – 1/2 cup
Nutmeg – 1 tsp
Red Chilli flakes – 1 tsp
Garlic – 3 cloves, finely minced
Chives – 2 tsp, fresh and finely chopped
Salt and Pepper to taste

– Preheat the oven to 375°F.
– Boil the potatoes in salted water. When done, mash them with the chives, chilli flakes and garlic and set aside.
– In a separate pot, blanch the asparagus spears in salted water for about 5-10 minutes. Drain and set aside upon cooking.
– Beat the eggs and half-and-half together with some salt and pepper.
– Add the egg mixture to the mashed potatoes and mix together well. Add the nutmeg and some more salt and pepper if required.
– Though you can use any ovenproof dish for this, I think a springform tye pan would be best. In the pan layer the filo sheets over each other, brushing melted butter over each layer. You can be very conservative with the butter but work quickly as these thin sheets dry out fast. Lay about 5 layers of pastry over each other allowing about an inch to hang over edges.
– Pour the potato-egg mixture into the pan, over the pastry and smooth to create a flat surface. Lay the asparagus spears lightly over the mixture parallel to one another. Give the dish a light brush oer with butter and move into the oven for about 20 minutes to bake until golden.

Cook’s notes:
A slice of this makes a great lunch with some salad. We had it with some cabbage leaves lightly dressed in a vinaigrette. I liked the slight notching up of flavours offered by the garlic and chives. The next time I think I will cut the asparagus into smaller pieces as the tart required some cutting into because of the whole spears. It turned out pretty well and got our ultimate accolade..’can be served to when we have company’.

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