Every now and then (OK, more often than that infers), I prefer a simple dinner– a dinner that requires little time standing in front of a hot stove, especially if it’s already a hot Summer day. I don’t own or use a microwave oven, so poison-blasted meals, no matter how quick and easy, are never an option. By the way, a hot day is anything over 81.
Today I was in dire need of groceries, but in no state to devote the usual 45 minutes it takes to plan out two weeks’ worth of meals, write down the necessary ingredients, and reorganize the list based on the items’ locations within the store. Yes, I really do all that, and it’s a super time and money saver. The fastest part of this routine is the grocery store attack, but much like my own house, my go-to store is undergoing a remodel, and things are not where they used to be. Story of my life these days. Hence, the need for a quick and easy dinner. And hopefully some leftovers for the next day.
Enter tarts. I had sweet plans for this dough, but I can’t always have Nutella for dinner.
Materials (for 12 small tarts, adapted from Martha Stewart)
1 package commercial puff pastry (2 sheets), thawed in fridge overnight
2 Tbsp flour
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 pound finely shredded Gruyere cheese
~ 1 pound fresh asparagus (or frozen, if you’re absolutely desperate, and New Seasons just ran out and won’t have any until tomorrow)
salt and pepper to taste
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F, and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Place pastry sheets onto a floured surface, and cut into 12 equal rectangles.
3. Lightly press using your fingers, and, using a knife, score each rectangle about 1/4 of an inch from the edge.
4. Brush each with egg, cover with a generous amount of Gruyere, and sprinkle with freshly ground salt and pepper.
5. Top with four to six asparagus spears (cut ends to fit on pastry), and place into oven.
6. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until pastry is golden brown.
To make the balsamic reduction, pour 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar into a small, heavy bottomed pot and put on medium to low heat. Allow to simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until the consistency is slightly thinner than you want it. Remove from heat.
Drizzle balsamic reduction onto a plate and rest pastry into the pool of sweet tarty love. Dip, swirl and engulf.