homemade ricotta + asparagus tart


Making your own ricotta cheese is surprisingly easy (we'll show you how in our spring issue) and is the star in this spring-inspired tart, perfect for weekend entertaining. 

1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 8 pieces
2-4 tablespoons (or more) ice water

Asparagus Pesto
1/2 bunch fresh asparagus (about 8 stalks), ends trimmed and divided
1 small clove garlic, roughly chopped
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 small leek, (white and light green parts), cut in half and thinly sliced
6 extra large eggs
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
2 tablespoons homemade (or whole milk) ricotta
1 tablespoon finely minced fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley
1 teaspoon finely minced fresh thyme

1. Make dough. In a food processor, combine flour, sugar, and salt. Add butter and process until mixture becomes coarse, about 10 seconds. With machine running, add 2 tablespoons ice water in a slow, steady stream through feed tube. Pulse until dough holds together, no more than 30 seconds. Dough should not be wet or sticky. Test finished dough by squeezing a small amount of dough together to see if it holds its shape. If still crumbly, add more ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time.
2. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and flatten slightly into a disk. Refrigerate for about 1 hour.
3. Make pesto. Cut 6 stalks asparagus into 1-inch pieces. Bring a pot of water to boil. Add asparagus and blanch for 3-4 minutes, until color is bright green. Remove with a slotted spoon and place in a bowl of ice water to cool. Drain and transfer to a food processor along with garlic, salt, pepper, and Parmigiano-Reggiano. Slowly stream in olive oil and process until smooth (you want pesto to be thick).
4. On a lightly floured surface, gently roll dough into a circle, about 1/4-inch thick. Carefully fold dough in half over rolling pin and use it to transfer dough to a 9-inch fluted tart pan with removable bottom. Press dough gently into bottom and up sides of pan. Trim off any excess or uneven pieces. Place pan on a baking sheet and set aside.
5. Preheat oven to 375°F. Prick bottom of dough with a fork; cover bottom with a sheet of parchment paper and fill with dried beans. Bake until crust is set, 15-20 minutes. Remove paper and beans. Allow crust to cool.
6. Place leeks in a sieve and rinse under cold water several times to remove dirt. Pat dry.
7. Cut remaining 2 stalks asparagus into 1/4-inch thick rounds.
8. In a medium sauté pan, heat butter over medium heat. Add leeks and asparagus and cook until softened, 5-10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
9. In a large bowl, add eggs and beat until frothy. Stir in cream, parsley, and thyme and season with salt and pepper. Beat again for another 1-2 minutes.
10. Spread about 1/2 cup pesto evenly over bottom of crust (reserve extra for another use), followed by cooled leek mixture. Add dollops of ricotta cheese on top, followed by a bit of Parmigiano-Reggiano. Carefully pour in egg mixture.
11. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until tart has set, has a slight jiggle in center and is lightly golden brown around edges. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Serves 6-8.

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cover photo by | Jennifer Jeanne Adams

cover photo by | Jennifer Jeanne Adams

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