The asparagus season in Tasmania can be short, unpredictable, and limited. But what a joy it is anyhow! Asparagus is the harbinger of springtime and its beautiful earthy crunch is a fleeting treat for a few weeks each year. I use them every which way I can in season. This recipe is as simple as it gets but makes use of the spears beyond the steamed/blanched/salad/grill paradigm. Puff pastry is always a winner, and the seasoned mascarpone is the rug that ties the room together. You can knock up a rough-puff if you feel that way inclined, but the purchased products are very good these days, and super convenient.
Pro-tip: Don’t overthink it! It sounds slap-dash, but this dish really is that simple. The fact that there are only three ingredients and some seasoning, means that the distinctive flavour of the asparagus is at the fore, with the other elements playing supporting roles. Aleppo pepper is an ingredient I came across some years ago and now can’t do without. It has a wonderfully complex and vibrant aroma and mild to medium heat, which makes it super versatile in a range of cuisines.
Puff pastry (enough to line a 24cm x 12xm rectangle, drop-base pastry tin, or something of a similar size)
2 bunches of asparagus
200 grams mascarpone
Zest of 1 lemon
1 tsp + a pinch of Aleppo pepper flakes
½ tsp salt
Freshly ground pepper
2 tbsp toasted hazelnuts
¼ bunch of chives
1 tbsp EV olive oil
50 grams shaved parmesan cheese.
Preheat an oven to 180°C
In a small bowl, mix the mascarpone, 1 tsp Aleppo pepper, ½ the lemon zest, salt, and some pepper until incorporated
Line your baking tin with the puff pastry
Trim the woody ends from the asparagus
Spread the mascarpone mixture onto the bottom of the puff pastry
Place the asparagus spears on top of the mascarpone mix, alternating their orientation (this ensures even cooking and presentation!)
Put in the oven to cook for 20-22 minutes
If your hazelnuts are raw with the skin on, toast them for 7 minutes in the 180°C oven, place them inside a tea towel and rub vigorously to remove the bitter skins.
Chop the toasted hazelnuts coarsely and finely chop the chives.
in another small bowl, mix the hazelnuts, chives, the rest of the lemon zest, the pinch of Aleppo pepper EV olive oil, and a small squeeze of the lemon juice (about a teaspoon worth)
Remove the galette from the tin and dress with the hazelnut mixture, top with the shaved parmesan. Serve immediately. Happy days!
Rhys Hannan – Chef de Mission @ Harvest Market
Thanks Libby @ Eat Well Tasmania for the image.