One of the best things about Spring is all of the fresh,  healthy, nutritious vegetables it has to offer us! One of the best things about making tarts is that you can always opt for shortcuts and use frozen puff pastry if you’re short on time. Another great news about this recipe, or any other vegan recipe as a matter of fact, is that you don’t have to be vegan to enjoy it!

I have no doubt that you may have seen several similar recipes across the endless array of foodblogs and youtube channels provided on the Internet. Using puff pastry to make a quick tart is no innovation either! But this recipe with the bechamel sauce is something I totally made up as I whipped it up in a flash, not even taking the time to take photos of the process along the way. Thank God I measured everything and took notes  while the tart baked away! 

Last but not least, I have to make a point of the fact that you will probably spend less time preparing this tart than you will reading about it  😀

Ingredients

  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry (about 9″ x 13″ in size)
  • 10-12 spears of fresh asparagus (250 gr or about 1/2 pound)

For the bechamel sauce

  • 2-3 tbsp (ca.30-40 ml) walnut oil (or any vegetable oil of your preference)
  • 3 tbsp (30 gr) flour
  • 250 ml soya milk (or any other unsweetened non-dairy milk of your preference)
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • ½ tsp sweet paprika powder
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp vegetable seasoning (optional)
  • Few dashes of nutmeg
  • Sea salt
  • Blackpepper
  • A couple of tsp of almond meal to sprinkle on top (optional)

Note: Non-vegans can use butter and dairy milk, the amounts being the same, and also grate some parmesan or other yellow cheese on top.

Method

The puff pastry; If you cannot find it in the form of a single sheet you can use 6 squares. Leave at room temperature to thaw. Then cut roughly about  an inch from all four side and put these piece aside. Now place the dough on a baking sheet lined with baking paper and lightly dusted with flour. Using a rolling pin roll out the dough just about an inch, going lengthwise and in width – trying to approximate its original size. Then carefully line the sides of the dough with the strips you cut off from the sides. Prick the bottom and set aside. Meanwhile heat oven to 350 F (175 C).

Preparing the asparagus; Break the root ends off by holding a stem in both hands about an inch from both ends. When you gently bend it, the tougher part in the root end from will snap off by itself. Peel with a vegetable peeler, starting from just under the tip. Wash under running water and pat dry. Unless the root ends are too tough or woody, you can save them to make some soup. If you like your vegetables well cooked rather than ‘al dente’ I would suggest you cook them in salted boiling water for just about 3-5 minutes and blanch them in ice cold water to preserve their color. Then you should pat dry them and use them on your tart. But this step is not absolutely necessary. It all depends on the type of asparagus you are using and on your own cooking preferences.

Making the bechamel sauce; Once everything is ready you can start making your bechamel sauce. Place oil in saucepan over low heat. Add flour and mix to make a roux. Add soya milk  gradually, incorporating with a hand-held whisk after each addition. Continue working over low heat to make sure you have no lumps in your sauce. Also the milk should be cool or at room temperature, but definitely not hot! Add all spices, salt and pepper and continue mixing until your sauce comes to a gentle boil. Taste for seasoning and take off heat. Set aside to cool just a little bit and mix every once in a while to prevent a skin from forming.

Assembling; Pour the sauce over the pastry and spread gently to the rim. Place asparagus on top forming any arrangement you desire (I chose to place them all with their tips pointing in the same direction). Sprinkle with some almond meal and bake in preheated oven about 25-30 minutes. Make sure to check on your tart while baking.

Wait for the tart to cool off just a little bit before serving it with a nice tossed green salad.

Bon Appétit!

* A few notes about some of the ingredients; Store bought frozen puff pastry is not a product I use abundantly but who doesn’t like shortcuts every once in a while? For vegans, make sure to check the contents of the product you buy. Most puff pastries contain hydrogenized vegetable oil, which is known to be not very healthy. That being said, it is totally up to you to decide whether to use store-bought or make your own puff pastry (a bit of a time consuming task, I must say!) My aim with this recipe was to provide a tasty little treat that can be quickly put together. Obviously it is not something we would make every day! As for vegetable seasoning, I suggest you use the kind that does not contain any MSG (monosodium glutamate). Or if you are uncertain about the product just omit it and use a little more salt instead, to your taste.