For the past few weeks my thoughts have been occupied with something other than food. Actually, more like the past many weeks. There are big decisions on the horizon, so I’ve been doing all the things they tell you to do when noodling something important. I’ve gone on long walks, tried visualization, made many lists and prayed to everyone up there in an effort to come to the right verdict. Hell, if I were able to meditate for more than a minute or two before getting distracted by what I want to make for my next meal, I’d meditate too. It’s funny the things people do to find clarity, especially when life-changing events loom. Some seek spiritual guidance through prayer, others make countless checklists and spreadsheets, and some just trust and leap. Me?? I cleaned windows. At least that’s what I did the other day to shift the karmic equilibrium and find what I hope will be the right path. Yeah sure, washing windows to find “clarity” is just dripping symbolism but cut me some slack. It actually helped.
Usually when I’m in some sort of mental turmoil, I cook. This is cooking in my heels, right? And since diving up to my elbows into a recipe is my go-to tactic, the whole cleaning windows thing came as a bit of a shock to me too. Regardless, there I sat contemplating (with my box of tissues) as I wondered what was next, what was there to do, what would I do, when the sun broke through the clouds and streamed through the window just at the right angle to warm my back. Taking this as some sort of sign, I smiled, looked up and thought… “GEEZ that window is FILTHY!” Suddenly I was off, a paper towel wielding, glass cleaner spritzing gladiator. And after all the windows were sparkling (and I was sufficiently exhausted), I started to laugh at my nuttiness. I know that the next chapter is going to be a major adjustment, change really sucks sometimes, and making that change at this stage of my life scares the hell out of me. But I’m also starting to get a little excited about the next chapter too. Did cleaning my windows make the difference? Probably not, but for next few days at least, I have a much clearer view.
Lest you think I ignored the kitchen during my window-washing frenzy, I didn’t. After putting the cleaner away, I broke out the asparagus, leeks and goat cheese for this Spring Asparagus and Leek Tart. My goal was to lighten up the traditional quiche recipes we all love, and this one does the trick. Great with a green salad for a light lunch, it would also make a great addition to any brunch buffet,
Spring Asparagus and Leek Tart
For the vegetable mixture
- 1 TBSP olive oil
- 1 cup chopped leeks
- 8 oz. (trimmed) asparagus
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- Pinch salt
For the custard
- 1 tsp chopped fresh tarragon
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- ¾ cup milk (whole or 2%)
- 1 egg plus 2 yolks
- 5 oz. room temperature goat cheese
- ½ cup shredded gruyere or swiss, divided into two ¼ cup portions
For the crust
- 4 oz. (6-8 sheets) Phylo dough
- Olive oil cooking spray
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Cut off the tips of the asparagus (about 2-inches long) and set aside. Chop the rest of the asparagus into ½ inch pieces. Heat the olive oil in a skillet; add the leeks, asparagus and a pinch of salt and sauté over medium-low heat until the leeks are softened and asparagus tender. Remove from heat and stir in teaspoon lemon juice. Set aside to cool.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, goat cheese, lemon zest and tarragon. Stir in ¼ cup of the gruyere. Set aside.
Put a 10” tart pan with removable bottom onto a cookie sheet so it’s easy to move in and out of the oven. Spray with the cooking spray, (or you could brush with olive oil if you don’t have the spray). Lay one sheet of Phylo into the pan, making sure you cover the rest with a damp towel so they don’t dry out. Spray the dough with oil. Continue with the remaining pieces, spraying each layer and staggering the points of Phylo so there’s overhanging dough all around the pan.
[Recipe Note: Phylo likes to tear, a lot, and if you try to fight that you will make yourself crazy. In this recipe it really doesn’t matter. The only thing you have to worry about is making a relatively even thickness in each layer so it bakes evenly. So if it tears, just put the pieces in the pan, making sure you do have dough overhanging the pan.]
When the vegetables are completely cool, add to the custard, mix well and pour into the prepared pan. Take the overhanging dough and tuck in around the pan making a raised crust around the edges. Spray or brush edges with oil. Arrange the reserved asparagus tips decoratively on the top of the tart, and sprinkle with the remaining ¼ cup gruyere.
Bake 30-40 minutes until the custard is set and the cheese has brown a little. Let cool 5 minutes before serving. Calories: about 240 per serving (6 servings.)
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