Caramelizedoniontart 1 scaled

Springtime Tarts…Yum!

Vegetable tart.

Recipes | By Margaret M. Johnson

What’s not to love about spring vegetables! Everyone welcomes asparagus, spinach, and pencil-thin spring onions for salads, soups and side dishes, but I love them in cheese-filled (preferably Irish cheese) tarts and quiche. Make your own crust, use refrigerated or frozen pie crusts, prepared puff pastry, or make one with no crust at all. All you need to complete your meal is a crisp salad, a great loaf of bread, and an equally great bottle of wine. Cheers!

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ASPARAGUS, BRIE & PROSCIUTTO TART

SERVES 8 TO 10
You can cut this tart into as many slices as you need to serve for an appetizer bite or for a luncheon dish with a salad.
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, defrosted according to directions
1 large egg yolk, beaten with 1 teaspoon water, for wash
6 ounces Brie, cut into slices or small pieces
48 thin asparagus spears
8 slices prosciutto
Olive oil, for drizzling
Ground pepper
Dubliner cheese, for topping
Snipped basil, for topping (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 400°F. On a floured surface, roll puff pastry into a 16-by-10-inch rectangle; trim uneven edges. Place pastry on an ungreased baking sheet. With a sharp knife, lightly score pastry dough 1 inch in from the edges to mark a rectangle. With a fork, pierce dough inside markings at 1/2-inch intervals. Brush dough border with egg wash. Sprinkle Brie evenly over inside border.
2. Trim bottoms of asparagus spears to fit crosswise inside tart shell. Cut each slice of prosciutto in half. Using one half at a time, wrap prosciutto lengthways around 3 thin asparagus spears. Repeat with remaining prosciutto and asparagus. Place down length of pastry; drizzle a little olive oil over top and sprinkle with pepper.
3. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until spears are tender and pastry is puffed and golden. Remove from oven; let cool slightly. Just before serving, sprinkle with cheese and scatter basil on top, if desired. Cut into squares or rectangles.

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GOAT CHEESE AND VEGETABLE QUICHE

SERVES 6 TO 8

This quiche is packed with fresh vegetables and herbs and is perfect baked without a crust.
4 tablespoons olive oil
10 ounces white mushrooms, chopped
5 ounces fresh spinach, chopped
2 scallions, sliced
1 small zucchini, sliced
10 cherry tomatoes, halved
4 large eggs
1/2 cup half and half
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
5 ounces fresh goat cheese, crumbled
Salt
Ground pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil, thyme and flatleaf parsley
1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Butter a 9-inch glass pie dish.
2. In a large skillet, heat 3 tablespoon oil. Cook mushrooms for 2 to 5 minutes, or until soft but not browned. With a slotted spoon, transfer to a bowl.
3. Add remaining tablespoon oil to skillet. Add spinach, scallions, zucchini and tomatoes; cook for 3 to 4 minutes, or until spinach is wilted. Stir into mushrooms. Arrange vegetables in prepared pie dish.
4. In a medium bowl, beat eggs, half and half and mustard; stir in cheese. Season with salt and pepper; stir in herbs. Spoon over vegetables. Put quiche in center of a baking sheet.
5. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until lightly browned and firm to touch. Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes before cutting into slices.

CARAMELIZED ONION, SPINACH

& BLUE CHEESE TART

SERVES 6
A frozen pie crust or refrigerated pie crust is a good substitute for the pastry if you prefer to skip this step.
For the pastry
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
4 ounces unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg yolk
2 tablespoons cold water
For the filling
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 large red onions, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1 cup baby spinach leaves
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 cup crumbled Cashel Blue cheese
1/2 cup heavy (whipping) cream
1 (8-ounce) container sour cream
2 large eggs
Pinch of nutmeg
Salt
Ground pepper
Thyme sprigs for garnish
1. Make pastry. Sift flour and salt into a food processor. Add butter; pulse 8 to 10 times, or until mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. With machine running, add egg yolk and just enough water to bring dough together.
2. Turn out onto lightly floured surface; form dough into a ball. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 1 hour.
3. Preheat oven to 400°F. On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to a 12-inch round. Press into a 10-inch tart pan with removable bottom. Fold in excess dough to form thick edges. Prick bottom with a fork and refrigerate for about 15 minutes.
4. Cut a piece of foil or parchment to fit pan and top with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until edges are lightly browned.
5. Remove weights and parchment and bake for 10 to 15 minutes longer, or until bottom is browned. Remove from oven; let cool in the pan on a wire rack. Reduce heat to 350°F.
6. Make filling. In a large skillet over medium heat, heat olive oil. Add onions, thyme, and spinach; cook for 3 to 5 minutes, or until onions are soft but not browned. Add sugar and cook for 5 minutes; stir in vinegar. Remove from heat; strain off excess liquid. Spread onion-spinach mixture evenly over baked pastry; sprinkle with cheese.
7. In a medium bowl, whisk together cream, sour cream, eggs, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Pour over cheese and onions.
8. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until top is golden and filling is set. Remove from oven; let cool for 15 minutes before cutting into wedges. Garnish with thyme sprigs.

SPRING ONION, ASPARAGUS & GOAT CHEESE TART
SERVES 6 TO 8
Like many vegetables, onions actually grow most of the year, but thin spring onions only come once a year. Perfect as a dipping vegetable, this crunchy onion can range in size from pencil thin to as large as a leek. Generally, the thinner they are the milder they are, so choose according to your taste for this tasty tart.
3 bunches spring onions, halved lengthways
1 large leek, washed and chopped
8 to 10 thin asparagus
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 fresh thyme sprigs
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, defrosted according to directions
1 large egg yolk, beaten with 1 teaspoon water, for wash
5 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Half-fill a large skillet with water; bring to boil. Add onions, leeks, and asparagus. Reduce heat to simmer; cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until onions are wilted. Drain and toss with oil, thyme, vinegar, and sugar.
3. On a lightly floured surface, roll out pastry to 9-x13-inch rectangle. Place pastry in center of prepared sheet. With a sharp knife, lightly score pastry dough 1 inch in from the edges to mark a rectangle. With a fork, pierce dough inside markings at 1/2-inch intervals. Brush dough border with egg wash. Arrange vegetables over inside border; scatter with goat cheese.
4. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until pastry is puffed and golden. Remove from oven; let cool for about 5 minutes before cutting into squares.

Margaret Johnson’s “Recipes” page now includes “Ireland Hopping: Adventures in Food, Drink, and Travel.” For further details on her work, including how to order her new cookbook “Teatime in Ireland,” visit www.irishcook.com