Sunday, May 31, 2009

Why do they call them tarts?

Leftover buttermilk from the panna cotta, asparagus from the farmers market (not nearly as pretty and petite as two weeks ago but still darn good), the last bit of on-sale ham still languishing in the freezer: what else to do but make an asparagus tart? But first, spend fifteen minutes on the Internet searching for the origin of the word tart. Short answer- from Middle English meaning savory pie derived (probably) from Old French tarte- origin unknown. Clever answer- a tart is always topless, duh.


While I had the food processor out I decided to make two crusts, one sweet and one savory. I used the Flaky Pie or Tart Dough recipe from The Art and Soul of Baking. I’ve had consistently good results from all the recipes I’ve tried from that book and I like that every step is covered so that the first time out I can be precise. I’ll wing it later but not until I know how things should be not just how they turned out.

For the filling I adapted the Leek Tart recipe from Patricia Wells’ Bistro Cooking. FYI- Her pate brisee recipe is also quite good and considerably less time consuming than the Flaky Pie or Tart Dough recipe because it is mixed entirely in the food processor.

I kept the sweet crust in the refrigerator to make a rhubarb gallette (more on that later).

Asparagus Buttermilk Tart

¾ cup diced onion (leeks or shallots would probably be equally good, or even better, but I’ve got a twenty pound bag of onions in the pantry)
1 tsp butter (or olive oil, I suppose)
One Bundle of Asparagus, woody ends removed, cut into bite size pieces (about 2 cups)
2 large eggs
1/3 cup buttermilk
¼ cup diced ham (optional)
½ to 1 cup grated cheese (I used Pecorino Romano but Gruyere is more traditional French tart-ish)
fresh ground pepper to taste
a wee bit of salt, if needed

Prepare dough ahead of time, giving enough time to thoroughly chill. Roll out the dough to line a 10½ inch tart pan, return to fridge to chill.
Preheat oven to 425.

Sautee onions with butter or olive oil on low to medium heat until tender but not brown. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and buttermilk. Cool onions slightly and add to egg mixture along with asparagus, ham, and half of the cheese. Pour mixture into prepared crust sprinkling remaining cheese on top.
Bake on middle rack of preheated oven until golden brown, about 45 minutes.

asparagus buttermilk tart
Serve warm or at room temperature. Like all flaky crusts this one is best within the first few hours but leftover tart is still better than your average ham and eggs the next morning for breakfast.


  1. Thanks for the clear recipes. This tart sounds really good, need a few ingredients and dinner will be ready.

  2. Buttermilk! Of course! Melinda what a great idea. I always use milk and the next time, whenever it comes, I'm going to try out this tasty tasty looking recipe.