Asparagus and caramelized onion tart

It's asparagus season, and this delightfully simple tart keeps the weekend restful so you can be ready to greet a new week.

The Rowdy Chowgirl
Making an asparagus and caramelized onion tart is the perfect activity for a quiet Sunday afternoon.

There are hints of both the blessed and the accursed about some Sundays. The good parts, of course, are obvious. A day of worship for many. A day of rest. It is a day of sleeping in, and long breakfasts, and lolling and lounging and hot baths and long runs and maybe even a nap. 

All good. All very good. But there is this whiff of despair in the air some Sundays, or maybe it’s just me, looking ahead and counting the dwindling hours of freedom and ease. 

Instead of staying in the pleasant now of couch and cat and book I start doing mental arithmetic: this many hours until I need to get ready for work tomorrow, and then get to bed and then get up and go to work and oh, my week is going to be so busy, and I don’t want to go to work, not yet … and there I am, dreading Monday morning instead of living Sunday afternoon. I’m sure I smell a whiff of brimstone in the air, possibly hear the echo of devilish laughter.

But you know what helps drive back the darkness?  A little time spent in the kitchen – not hurrying, just flowing with the chopping and stirring.  And then a good meal, like this summer-y tart. Yes, the leftovers will be good for lunch on Monday afternoon, too.  But don’t think about Monday while you are making it.

Asparagus and Caramelized Onion Tart

 1 shortcrust tart shell

1 large onion

1 teaspoon olive oil

15 ounces whole milk ricotta

1/4 cup cream

1 egg

1 teaspoon lemon zest

1/4 tsp salt

several grinds of pepper

1-2 tablespons/small handful of fresh parsley, minced fine

15-20 stalks of asparagus, ends trimmed

drizzle of olive oil

1. You will need a tart shell that is approximately 10 inches wide for this recipe.  Buy one, take one out of the freezer, or use your favorite shortcrust recipe to create one from scratch. Whichever way, you’ll need it rolled out and pressed into a pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Coarsely chop onion. In a sauté pan or wok over medium heat, stir onions in 1 teaspoon of olive oil,  then cook very, very slowly until caramelized – at least half an hour, stirring occasionally.  Add a splash of water every now and then if needed to keep onions from frying/burning/overbrowning. They are done when they are soft, golden brown, and smell sweet.

3. Meanwhile, prebake the tart shell for 10 minutes, then remove from oven.

4. Vigorously stir together ricotta, cream, egg, lemon zest, parsley, salt and pepper.  Pour into tart shell.  Top ricotta mixture with caramelized onions, distributed evenly. Arrange asparagus spears on top of onion layer. Drizzle very lightly with olive oil.

5. Place tart pan on a baking sheet and place in oven. Bake for 30 minutes, then check periodically and remove from oven when ricotta is set, asparagus looks cooked, and tart is generally golden brown on top.

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