Its early Spring 2021. I am in the veggie garden of my new home, a blue and white Victorian that has been my dream home since childhood. Tom and I saved up for years to buy it, but the reality of it hasn’t sunk in yet. That this home is ours. I thought it would sink in when the Realtor handed us our keys, but it didn’t happen that way. I still had this unsettled feeling. That, like all our other homes, this one was temporary. I thought it might happen when we moved in our furniture, maybe when we unpacked the last box or finished painting the kitchen. But no, I didn’t realize it was mine until I planted my very first asparagus plant.
You see, unlike most veggies, asparagus is a perennial that takes a couple of years of growing before you get any sort of decent harvest. It’s a vegetable that I never bothered to plant in my garden before because I knew we would not be staying in any of our rentals for that long. I had been waiting 10 years to plant this asparagus and now that it’s in the ground I finally feel at home. I stand up brushing the dirt from my knees and survey the yard. Apple and citrus trees line the fence with the occasional cherry, avocado and nectarine squeezed in. Beyond the backyard our horses graze in a small pasture near the forest’s treeline. I can hear the far off bleep of Toms tractor as he backs up over the brush by the barn, clearing a space for our new chicken coop…
Beep, Beep, Beep! I peel open an eyelid. Where am I? Beep, Beep, Beep! I sit up wiping the sleep from my eyes. The oven is screaming at me to take the Asparagus and Gruyère Tart out before it burns. I realize that I must have fallen asleep on the couch while I was waiting for it to cook. Last weeks flu took a lot out of everyone and we are still recovering. I hurry into the kitchen wondering how many times it had beeped and discover the tart is perfect. Crispy flaky crust, cheesy center and spears of tender asparagus lined up on top like little green soldiers. So simple, yet so satisfying on so many levels. I cut a slice for lunch and head out to my tiny city backyard to plan this Spring’s vegetable garden. I may not be planting asparagus yet, but there is plenty more to grow until then.
Asparagus and Gruyère Tart
(Recipe from Martha Stewart.com)
- 1 sheet defrosted Puff Pastry
- 2 cups (abt 5 1/2 oz) shredded Gruyère cheese (Fontina works too)
- 1 1/2 lbs medium to thick asparagus spears
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- salt & pepper
- flour, for work surface
- parchment paper
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. On a floured parchment paper, roll out the puff pastry to about 16×10 inches. Trim any uneven edges and move the whole thing, parchment and all to a cookie sheet. With a sharp knife lightly score the dough about an inch from the edge all the way around (don’t cut through it, just leave an impression of a line). Use a fork and pierce the dough inside the marking at 1/2 inch intervals. Bake 15 minutes or until golden. Remove from oven. Its going to be a little puffy but don’t worry it will deflate itself over the next couple minutes.
2. Cut about 1 1/2 inches off the bottoms of the asparagus spears making sure they will fit inside the tart shell. Sprinkle the cooked pastry with cheese and arrange the asparagus in a single layer on top. Brush with olive oil and season with salt & pepper. Bake 20-25 minutes or until cheese is completely melted, the asparagus is tender when pierced and the pastry is a rich golden brown. Remove and serve immediately.