Flaky pastry, creamy cheesy filling, earthy tender asparagus and crunchy roasted hazelnuts. This asparagus, ricotta and hazelnut tart is the perfect lunch or light dinner!
I absolutely love making and eating a savoury tart for lunch or a light dinner. There are so many quiche recipes out there (including one of my own here!), but not as many tarts that let the fresh vegetables really shine! And this asparagus, ricotta and hazelnut tart does exactly that!! The rough-puff pastry is flaky and crisp, the lemony ricotta filling is creamy and superrr cheesy. The asparagus spears are cooked through just enough to be tender but still have some bite. And the chopped roasted hazelnuts give the perfect crunch. All the textures and flavours marry together so so well, and its so easy to make!
Key Ingredients You’ll Need
- Ricotta – Smooth and creamy ricotta is the star of the filling.
- Asparagus – When in season, asparagus is earthy, slightly sweet and bitter. It works so well as a star ingredient and is really easy to prepare. Just hold the asparagus in both hands and bend gently. The woody end will then naturally snap off, leaving you with the delicious spear.
- Hazelnuts – Nuts add the most delicious texture to the tart and a salty savoury note. If you don’t like hazelnuts, or have an allergy, you could swap them for almonds.
How to make asparagus, ricotta and hazelnut tart
The ricotta filling for the tart is really quick to make, and the asparagus only needs the woody ends removing before baking. The pastry does require a little more skill, but this is a rough-puff pastry not full puff. Which cuts down the prep time ALOT. You could of course skip the pastry step entirely and buy it pre-made. If you’re pushed for time, its absolutely a great option. But if you do have the time, I would really recommend making the rough-puff yourself as the flavour will be so much better!
Making the rough-puff pastry
The key to rough-puff pastry (and most pastries really) is keeping your butter chilled at all times. You need to work quickly and with purpose – show that pastry who’s boss! If you have a marble effect worktop or chopping board, use this to roll out your pastry on – the cold smooth material will help prevent the pastry from sticking and keep it cold. If not, be fairly liberal with your flour dusting!
The pastry begins by mixing flour, salt, cubed cold butter and ice-cold water together into a bowl. You want to mix it together very roughly, so the butter remains in large chunks. The mixture will come together to make a very rough dough, which you can then roll out into a large rectangle. You should be able to see the large chunks of butter in the rolled-out dough.
You can then begin the first ‘turn’. This is the process of folding the pastry up like a letter, turning 90degrees, rolling out and then folding up like a letter again. This turning and folding process is what creates the layers of pastry, that when baked give the flaky crisp texture. The dough should be chilled at this point, before repeating the turning, folding and chilling process again.
I find with pastry making, it seems intimidating and time consuming. But in actuality, a lot of the time is spent with the pastry in the fridge chilling! It’s really not as hands on as it appears, which makes it much easier to tackle.
Making the ricotta filling
The creamy ricotta filling for the tart is a simple mixture of ricotta cheese, lemon zest and juice, parmesan and an egg. The egg helps the filling to bind and adds moisture, while the lemon adds a delicious fresh citrus tang to the tart.
You can make the filling while the pastry is chilling, but if its a hot day I would store it in the fridge until you’re ready to begin assembling.
Assembling the tart
Assembling the tart is super simple and looks so so effective! Sometimes letting delicious veggies take centre stage can be the best decoration! But before adding the asparagus, the chilled pastry needs to be rolled out.
You can make this slightly easier, by rolling the pastry directly onto baking paper to make it easier to manoeuvre. Or you can liberally flour your worktop, to ensure it doesn’t stick. Next the ricotta filling should be evenly spread onto the pastry dough, leaving a little border around the outside. The prepared asparagus can then be laid on top, alternating the tips so they are facing opposite directions.
I have kept all of my asparagus spears whole, but if your spears are particularly wide, cut them in half lengthways and lay them flat onto the ricotta filling.
The chopped hazelnuts should then be scattered on top, and the exposed edges of pastry brushed with an egg wash. And thats it! The tart can then be baked for about 22 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown and the asparagus just cooked through.
Tips & Tricks
The tart tastes best on the day of baking, still a little warm from the oven. You can however make the pastry up to two days in advance, and keep it air-tight in your fridge until you want to assemble the tart.
Yes! I ate some of the tart warm from the oven the day I made it, and then cold the next day for lunch – both ways were delicious! So it makes a great bake for a picnic!
If you can’t get hold of hazelnuts (or aren’t a fan!), swapping for almonds will still work really well. If you’re not a fan of asparagus (or its not in season), tenderstem broccoli would be a great swap!
I love how simple this tart is, yet its packed full of flavour and different textures. And it looks so impressive served up for a lunch or packed up for a picnic! The combination of flaky pastry, creamy filling, tender asparagus and crunchy hazelnuts works so well and can be adapted easily too, to suit your favourite nuts and vegetables! I really hope you love it as much as I do!
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Asparagus, Ricotta & Hazelnut Tart
- 200 g plain flour
- 1 pinch of salt
- 200 g unsalted butter cold and cubed
- 100 ml ice-cold water
- 100 g ricotta cheese
- zest of 1 lemon
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- 50 g parmesan cheese plus more for sprinkling
- 1 large egg
- 460 g asparagus
- 30 g roasted hazelnuts chopped
- 1 tbsp mint leaves chopped
- 1 large egg beaten
- For the pastry: Place the flour and salt into a large bowl. Add the cubed butter and using a blunt knife roughly mix the butter into the flour. You want to maintain the lumps of butter, so don’t mix too hard. Pour in half of the water and using your hand, roughly mix to combine. Then pour in the remaining water a little at a time, until the mixture just comes together (you may not need to use all the water).
- Tip the mixture out onto a floured work surface and roll into a long rectangle, with the short edge facing you. (You want it to be around 15cmx45cm.) Then fold the top third of the dough down over the middle third, and fold the bottom third up over the two-thirds, as if you are folding a letter. Turn the dough 90 degrees, so the open ends are facing you, and repeat the rolling and folding process. Then wrap tightly in clingfilm, and place into the fridge for 30minutes to chill.
- Remove from the fridge, and repeat the rolling and folding process twice more. Re-wrap the dough in clingfilm, before chilling again for 1 hour. Then preheat oven to 200C/180C Fan/Gas Mark 6.
- For the filling: Combine the ricotta, lemon zest & juice, parmesan and egg in a bowl, adding salt & pepper to taste. Then prepare the asparagus by removing the woody ends, and cutting any large asparagus spears in half lengthways.
- To assemble: Roll the pastry out directly onto baking paper to create a large rectangle about 21cmx33cm. Spread the ricotta filling on the pastry, leaving a 1inch border all the way around. Lay the asparagus on top, alternating so the tips are on opposite sides. Then sprinkle the chopped hazelnuts over top.
- Brush the exposed pastry with the remaining beaten egg, then place in the oven and bake for 22-25 minutes until pastry is golden brown and asparagus are cooked through. Sprinkle over some fresh chopped mint and a little more parmesan before serving.