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Herby Asparagus and Bacon Tart

Oh, the wonders of a sheet of frozen puff pastry — here is good reason to have a package perpetually tucked in the freezer! This easy-to-make tart is so delicious and adaptable:  serve it as the first course of an elegant repast, or present as the basis for a light meal, with a green salad served alongside. Either way, you’ll hardly feel you’ve earned the plaudits that will surely be directed your way. The creamy, lemon-zest infused filling is topped with tender-crisp asparagus and bits of smokey bacon (you can’t have forgotten our fondness for said delectable morsel!), and the whole is marvelously enhanced by the fresh herbs. It’s our bet that this flakey rectangle won’t languish on the table for any length of time. Rather, puff pastry at the ready, let appetites be inspired, and met, with the easy grace of this winning recipe!

Herby Asparagus and Bacon Tart

1 sheet puff pastry, defrosted if frozen
1 egg, beaten
2 tsp. olive oil
4 oz. thick-sliced bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (3-4 slices)
4 oz. ricotta cheese (1/2 cup)
3 oz. mascarpone cheese (1/3 cup)
zest of 1 lemon
2 tbs. chopped fresh parsley
2 tbs. chopped fresh chives
1 tbs. chopped fresh mint
2 tbs. grated Parmesan
1 small bunch of asparagus, trimmed

Heat the oven to 400°F. On a lightly floured board, roll the pastry out to a 6″x12″ rectangle. Transfer it to a lightly floured baking sheet. Score a 1/2-inch border, making sure you don’t go all the way through the base. Prick all over the base with a fork and brush with the beaten egg. Bake for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a small saucepan and cook the bacon until golden and crisp. Set aside.

Combine the ricotta, mascarpone, lemon zest, parsley, chives, and mint. Add 1 tbs. of the Parmesan, a little salt, and a good grinding of black pepper.

When the pastry has cooked, squash down the center and spread it with the cheese mixture. Scatter over the bacon, reserving the oil. Place the asparagus along the length of the tart, alternating direction of the tips. Brush with a little of the bacon oil and sprinkle on the remaining 1 tbs. of Parmesan. Bake 17-20 minutes more. Serve warm.

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