I always like to cook using seasonal ingredients, as they tend to have the best flavour. This delicate asparagus appetiser is a layer of tasty vegetables stacked on top of a crispy puff pastry disc.
The English asparagus season kicks off at the end of April and lasts approximately 8 weeks. There are numerous ‘Pick Your Own’ farms around the country, which allow you to gather your own fruit and vegetables. It is very satisfying and relaxing to have a go at ‘ harvesting’ your own vegetables on a beautiful sunny English day – so put asparagus picking on the agenda. Asparagus is rich in soluble fibre, known to have a protective effect against degenerative heart diseases and also contain high levels of potassium, which may help to control blood pressure. In addition, are low in fat and sodium, making it the perfect choice for those concerned about a healthy heart.
Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 25 minutes
Serves: 6 people
Ingredients:375g pack puff pastry – ready rolled if possible
6 large eggs – try quail eggs if available
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
200g asparagus tips – halved
200g runner beans – trimmed and sliced
8 cherry tomatoes – cut in half
2 tablespoons capers – drained and rinsed
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 egg yolk – to glaze pastry
Method1.Pre- heat the oven to 220 C/ 425F/ Gas mark 7.
2.Line a baking tray with non-stick baking parchment paper.
3.Roll out the pastry if not ready rolled. Cut out 9 cm (3 ½ inch) round templates, using a cutter or saucer.
4.Glaze with egg yolk.
5.Bake for 10 minutes or until well risen and golden. Remove and flatten gently with a baking tray. Return to the oven for a final 5 minutes or until golden.
6.Meanwhile place the eggs in a small saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 4 minutes. Drain and cool slightly under cold water, then peel and discard the shells.
7.Place the asparagus in a saucepan of boiling water. Simmer for 2-3 minutes. Remove and rinse under cold water.
8.Heat the olive oil in a shallow frying pan. Stir fry the asparagus and runner beans for 5 minutes or until tender but still retaining their texture. Stir in the cherry tomatoes, capers, balsamic vinegar and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
9.Quarter the eggs. Transfer the pastries to a serving dish. Pile the vegetables onto each pastry round and add the eggs.
To serve the stylish way: Sprinkle with a dusting of freshly ground black pepper and a little extra virgin olive oil.