Four-Ingredient Asparagus Tart for Mothers Day (Or the Friend You Yell “Mother” at in the Chat)

Welcome to the sapphic table, a series of (hopefully!) unfussy seasonal recipes for your farmers market, your CSA bounty — or your grocery store. Today we’re making a four-ingredient asparagus tart for Mother’s Day, or for that friend you yell Mother at in your group chat.


A four-ingredient asparagus tart, in a close up photo. Asparagus spears are sitting in a cheese and puff pastry shell.

In my opinion there’s no better home for springtime asparagus than nestled between a bed of cheese and butter. That’s my selling point. My strongest argument.

But if “cheese” + “butter” hasn’t quite done it for you yet, I can go deeper. This dead simple asparagus tart is so easy to make for ridiculously impressive results that you can assemble and bake the entire thing with sleep crusted in your eyes and still partially in your early morning zombie form. If you cut a few corners as suggested (I promise you don’t have use a rolling pin unless you want to), it will take you longer to decide on a Spotify playlist than to get this into the oven. Buttery, store bought, frozen puff pastry will do all the work for you — making the final result impeccably rich and flaky, almost as if you’re a master baker, and will knock the socks off of anyone in attendance. The asparagus roasts as the pastry cooks, becoming deliciously charred at the tips and lush throughout. This is a genius hack recipe, especially if you consider yourself not skilled in the kitchen. The end result is always outstanding, no matter how little experience you have.

I have particular feelings about brunches, especially brunches at home — they should feel like luxury, a self-carved vacation of your own making, but the process of creating said brunch should not leave you exhausted, otherwise you’ve defeated the whole purpose. If I close my eyes while sipping my mimosa from a mug (that I’m pretending is a glass, but I can’t be trusted with stemware that early), I want to feel like I could just as easily be at that one fancy restaurant downtown as I am in my pajamas serving friends from my kitchen.

A par-baked pastry shell with a pile of cheese in the middle, placed inside of a rimmed baking sheet on a black and white table cloth.

A par-baked pastry shell, covered in cheese and asparagus, placed inside of a rimmed baking sheet on a black and white table cloth.

If that also sounds like what you’re into, just saying perhaps to impress for mother’s day because you forgot to make reservations at the nice place you know she likes, or maybe for your chosen family to survive through the rough edges and sharp corners of the day together, maybe to eat it by yourself while you read that book you keep putting off and save the leftovers for Monday morning… in any of those extremely hypothetical situations, this is for you.

There’s a few dozen versions of this asparagus tart online and to be honest I’m not sure what even qualifies as a “tart” but I’m keeping it because that’s what all the other recipes call it, plus it sounds nice. This version is lightly adjusted from Martha Stewart’s, because that’s how I first learned how to make it. Over the years I’ve lowered the cooking times to minimize the chance of the puff pastry burning, along with using slightly less cheese and asparagus. The shatteringly flaky pastry shell is my favorite part and extra cheese/ asparagus weight can create what was once known on the Great British Bake-Off as a “soggy bottom” — still delicious, but you’ll end up having to eat it with a fork and knife. I also offer less expensive alternatives to her original gruyere.

A bundle of asparagus laid on top of a black table top

Four-Ingredient Asparagus Tart for Mothers Day (Or the Friend You Yell “Mother” at in the Chat)

Serves 3-4 as a main course, or 6-8 as a side

Ingredients

1 sheet frozen puff pastry
1 1/2 to 2 cups shredded gruyere cheese (*this can easily be cheddar if it’s cheaper or your store doesn’t have gruyere. It could also be a mix of cheddar and gruyere if you’re feeling it, but that would take us over 4 ingredients!)
3/4 to 1 pound of asparagus
1 tablespoon olive oil

Instructions

Defrost puff pastry according to package instructions (pay attention! It might require setting it out in the fridge overnight).

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Trim the bottoms of the asparagus spears (cut off the white parts). If your asparagus is medium-to -thicc, instead of thin, use a knife to cut asparagus length-wise — making two skinny asparagus where there was once only one. If your asparagus is already thin, you don’t need to do that. Set asparagus pile aside.

Line a baking sheet large enough to hold the puff pastry with parchment paper or lightly oiled aluminum foil, spray, whatever is your favorite “keep things from sticking to a baking sheet” situation. Place pastry on a baking sheet.

Optional: Using a rolling pin or a clean wine bottle, roll the puff pastry into a slightly larger rectangle than its original shape (I usually just roll it once or twice first up-and-down, and then side-to-side, all over. I also sometimes skip this step). Trim any uneven edges.

With a sharp knife, lightly score — this means draw a line into it, slightly pressing down — the pastry dough, 1 inch in from the edges on each side, to mark a smaller rectangle. Inside your scored markings, use a fork to make holes all over the dough. This is to prevent the dough from “puffing” too much while it bakes, so please poke holes liberally.

Put in oven for first round of baking, roughly 12 minutes.

Remove puff pastry shell from oven, and inside your scored lines, sprinkle your shredded cheese. Arrange asparagus in a single layer over cheese. If you wanna get fancy, you can alternate the ends and tips. Asparagus should be packed tightly together — it will shrink while baking! — but not overlapping (a little overlap is OK if you just can’t make a single layer work, but ideally we’re going for single layer here). Drizzle olive oil over asparagus and season and season with salt and pepper.

Return to oven and bake until spears are tender, another 12 minutes.

Cut into 6-8 pieces, depending on preference. Serve warm.

A four-ingredient asparagus tart, cut into pieces in a close up photo. Asparagus spears are sitting in a cheese and puff pastry shell.

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Carmen Phillips

Carmen is Autostraddle's Editor-in-Chief and a Black Puerto Rican femme/inist writer. She claims many past homes, but left the largest parts of her heart in Detroit, Brooklyn, and Buffalo, NY. There were several years in her early 20s when she earnestly slept with a copy of James Baldwin’s “Fire Next Time” under her pillow. You can find her on twitter, @carmencitaloves.

Carmen has written 700 articles for us.

23 Comments

  1. “If I close my eyes while sipping my mimosa from a mug (that I’m pretending is a glass, but I can’t be trusted with stemware that early)” had me howling. I’m pretty sure the majority of our (freely acquired) (vompletely unmatching) glass stemware has been broken at brunch events for this very reason. Also this recipe looks incredible. Ty carmen as always

    • OK but I was first introduced to the concept of a wine mug by some television show… I can’t remember which right now, but the characters were all basically having breakfast in bed and poured their wine into mugs to minimize spillage… it blew my mind. I never looked back.

  2. This looks delicious! And gorgeous! I have a go-to puff pastry tart (green pesto base, courgette rounds, topped with feta or goat’s cheese and pine nuts) but I’m going to mix it up and try this one next time — thanks Carmen.

  3. Important question from a single queer who likes making fancy (but also easy) food for one – how well does this do as leftovers? Like could I make it and then reheat leftovers in the oven another day?

  4. Wanted to say thanks Carmen, my Mom was very excited to try this and it was delicious! Then she sent the recipe to several of her friends and a bunch of our family members, a couple of them have now made it too! You’ve started a movement! ;)

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