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Spring Asparagus Tart With Red Onions

This elegant spring tart has subtle, refined flavors - early asparagus, lightly caramelized red onions, an accent of orange, nutty-tasting Gruyere cheese and flat leaf parsley. Make it on the spur of the moment with Pillsbury pre-rolled pastry (find it in the refrigerator case with the biscuits) and serve with a salad of crunchy romaine tossed with oranges and Nicoise olives.

1 Pillsbury pre-rolled pastry round, at room temperature
1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 red onion thinly sliced
1/2 pound asparagus, sliced into 1-inch lengths on a diagonal, about 11/2 cups
2/3 cup half-and-half
2 large eggs
Zest of 1 orange, minced, about 1 tablespoon
1 tablespoon chopped flat leaf parsley
1/4 teaspoon salt and several grindings pepper
1/2 cup Gruyere cheese, grated

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Open crust on work surface. Rub with flour. Arrange dough, flour side down in 91/2-inch tart pan with removable bottom. Press dough into pan, folding excess over to form double-thick sides. Prick well all over. Bake until golden, about 15 minutes. Cool on rack.

Reduce oven to 375 degrees.

Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan and add the onions, pinch of salt and a few pinches of pepper. Sauté over medium heat until the onions are soft, 7 or 8 minutes. Add the asparagus and cook until the asparagus is just tender, about 8 to 10 minutes. Onions will be lightly caramelized. Meanwhile whisk in a bowl half-and-half, eggs, cheese, orange zest, parsley, 1/4 teaspoon of salt and pepper. Place tart pan on baking sheet in case filling overflows slightly during baking. Spoon asparagus/onion mixture into the pastry shell. Spoon custard mix over. Bake 30 minutes or until tart puffs and top browns. Cool slightly. Serves 4 as appetizers, 2 as a light meal.

Filling adapted from "Fields of Greens" by Annie Somerville

Thursday, March 18, 1999

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