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Free-Form Asparagus and Potato Tart

The light and crispy pastry case for this lovely springtime tart couldn’t be easier to make, though you WILL get a workout grating in the butter (which is probably just as well to offset your eventual caloric intake!). Serve as a vegetarian main with a salad alongside, or follow our lead, and pair it with grilled beef fillet and some of our Spiced Tomato Chutney for a simple but elegant meal.

Free-Form Asparagus and Potato Tart

14 oz. Yukon Gold or similar potato
2 tbs. wholegrain mustard
5 oz. asparagus (after snapping off woody ends)
5 oz. Gruyère, coarsely grated
7 oz. sour cream or crème fraîche
1 large egg

For the pastry:

6 oz. butter, frozen
11 oz. all-purpose flour (2½ cups plus 2 tbs.)
2 oz. Gruyère, coarsely grated

The morning before you make the tart, put the butter in the freezer: first wrap it in foil, which will help to keep it cold when you grate it later.

To make the pastry, put the flour in a big bowl and mix in a good pinch of salt and the cheese. Using a coarse cheese grater, grate in the butter – try to hold it as little as possible so it doesn’t warm up too much – and stir it in with a knife as you go. When all the butter is in, give it a final stir to make sure all the strands of butter are coated with flour, then quickly stir in 4 fl. oz. of very cold water. Splash in a little more if it looks dry, then lightly bring the pastry together with your hands. Wrap in cling film and chill for at least 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a big pan of lightly salted water to a boil and tip in the potatoes. Boil just until tender, then drain well. Slice ¼” thick when cool enough to handle.

Heat the oven to 400°F with a baking tray inside. On a large sheet of baking parchment dusted with a little flour, roll out the pastry into a rough circle about 12” wide and a generous ¼” thick. Brush the mustard over the pastry. Arrange the potatoes, asparagus, and most of the cheese in layers in the center of the base, leaving a border of pastry that’s roughly 2” all the way around. Season and fold up the pastry edges to enclose the vegetables and cheese, pinching the edges to seal. Whisk together the sour cream and the egg with a little seasoning, then pour into the center of the tart. Sprinkle over the remaining cheese and slide the tart into the preheated baking tray. Bake for 35-45 minutes until the pastry is golden and crisp. Eat just warm or at room temperature.

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