These pretty little hairy bulbs are spring garlic. Also known as young garlic, green garlic or garlic shoots. They look a lot like spring onions but have a sweet, mild, fresh garlicky flavour. They can be used in place of garlic in any dish and because they have a more delicate flavour can also be used raw in salads as you would a spring onion. In Spain they are called ajos tiernos or ajetes and are used frequently in cooking. One of the most popular dishes is revuelto de ajos tiernos which is eggs scrambled with spring garlic.
This is actually a combination of two recipes put together. The first for an Asparagus Tart from The Art of the Tart and the second for Wild Garlic Custards with Cheddar & Mustard Straws from Terre a Terre. I changed the puff pastry cheese straws for a puff pastry tart and mixed the asparagus into the garlic custard. I wanted a savoury version of a Portuguese Custard Tart type thing.
If I was to do it again I would probably use a blind baked short crust pastry case instead of puff as the base of my tart was undercooked even though I part baked the tart shell before filling it with the custard. Either that or part bake it for longer, say 15- 20 minutes instead of the 10 minutes I gave it. If you are buying a part baked tart case you can miss out the mustard seeds & grated cheese as I don’t think they will stick to the cooked pastry.
Asparagus & Spring Garlic Custard Tart Recipe
serves 4-6, vegetarian
- a 9 or 10 inch shortcrust pastry case (bought or homemade)
- 1 tsp mustard seeds (optional)
- a sprinkling of grated manchego, cheddar or parmesan (optional)
- 1 egg, beaten with a little milk
- 50 gr spring garlic, finely chopped
- a handful of chives, finely chopped
- 50 ml whole milk. I used goat’s milk
- 2 eggs
- 2 egg yolks
- 150-200 gr cream cheese (depending on the depth of your tart)
- salt & black pepper
- freshly grated nutmeg
- a bundle of asparagus, snapped and woody ends removed
- a handful of grated manchego, cheddar or parmesan
Preheat the oven to 200 C. If you have made your own pastry case, bake the pastry blind (by putting some greaseproof paper in the case and filling it with a layer of dried beans) for 15 minutes. Then remove the beans & paper and brush the base with the egg wash and sprinkle over the mustard seeds, grated cheese. Prick all over the base with a fork and return to the oven for 5 minutes. Remove the pastry case from the oven to cool and turn the oven down to 180 C.
Cook the asparagus in salted boiling water for 3 minutes, drain, run under cold water and set aside to cool. Put the finely chopped spring garlic, chives and milk in a bowl or food processor and blend on high until smooth. Mix the eggs & egg yolks with a fork and stir them into the cream cheese, then add the garlicky milk mix and beat together until smooth. Season with salt, pepper and a little grated nutmeg.
Spoon or tong the cooked asparagus into the tart case evenly then pour over the garlic custard. Sprinkle over a little grated cheese and cook for 25 – 30 minutes until just set and slightly browned. Leave to cool for 10 minutes before serving.
Serve with a green salad for lunch or with some buttery baby new potatoes for a more substantial dinner. Garnish with some more chopped chives and enjoy this celebration of spring flavours!!