Mr NQN came home from the neurosurgeon one day, plopped down on the couch dramatically and turned to me.
“Guess what the doctor said?” he asked.
“What’s wrong?” I prepared myself for the worst.
“The doctor said that I have to go kitesurfing to get rid of my headache!” he said grinning broadly every tooth in his mouth gleaming in happiness. He raised a hand for a high five. I did not return it.
“Nice try” I said unimpressed.
“Don’t leave me hanging!” he said as I walked away.
Of course I’ll feel terrible if he does have a brain tumah and I was making light of it but I suspect that these man headaches that lead to kitesurfing are an elaborate, expensive extension of the man flu. Because once the doctor told him this the headaches disappeared only to reemerge when housework needed to be done. He actually once clutched at his arm suddenly as if stabbed and writhed on the couch in pain when I asked him to vacuum, I kid you not.
Still that’s how I found myself watching him kitesurf one long weekend day. And by the time we got home it was getting late and I wanted to rustle up something delicious but didn’t take too long. Plus, and this may be where my own brain skipped a beat, but I wanted to photograph it too. So essentially I needed something that could be done within about half an hour before the light completely disappeared.
I pulled out the spring asparagus that I was sent and regarded the inner workings of my fridge and freezer for a moment. I had the basic makings of an onion and cheese tart that I often make and I decided to make a version of it with the asparagus and some prosciutto I had bought for his lunch. It’s one of the easiest things that I make and the longest part was waiting for the oven to preheat and within 30 minutes, with some time to spare I had dinner ready for the ravenous Mr NQN. The pastry was crisp and rich with the cream cheese and the prosciutto wrapped asparagus had a toothsome texture and saltiness from the ham. it is also perfect sliced up in quarters or sections for a picnic as it is good hot or warm. It was devoured happily and I also managed to just get the photos done in time.
And the headache? Well it came back when the dishes needed to be done
So tell me Dear Reader, how have you spent your weekend or long weekend?
Asparagus & Prosciutto Tart
An Original Recipe by Not Quite Nigella
Serves 4 (with a side salad as an entree)
- 1 sheet ready rolled puff pastry
- 1 bunch of asparagus (about 14-16 spears)
- 75g/2.5 ozs thinly sliced prosciutto
- 75g/2.5 ozs cream cheese, softened
- A little oil to drizzle
- 1 beaten egg to glaze (optional)
- salt and pepper to taste
1. Preheat oven to 220C/440F. Line a tray with parchment paper and take out the puff pastry from the freezer. With a ruler and a butter knife (not a particularly sharp one) score a line about one centimetre/half an inch around the edge making sure that you don’t cut through the pastry. Prick the centre with a fork all over and then spread with the cream cheese. I find this done easiest if I just microwave the cream cheese for about 10-15 seconds in the microwave to make it very spreadable. Spread it with an angled spatula or a knife avoiding the outside border area. Bake in the oven for 5 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, get rid of the woody ends by snapping off the ends of the asparagus. Asparagus will naturally snap at the right point towards the end so just bend and it will snap-discard the woody ends. Heat a saucepan of water and blanch the asparagus for 1-3 minutes (I did mine for 2-3 as they were larger asparagus spears). Drain under cold water to stop further cooking or place in an ice bath.
3. Take out the pastry from the oven and top with prosciutto wrapped asparagus. I alternate one spear of regular asparagus and then one spear of it wrapped in prosciutto-I know there really isn’t any such thing as too much prosciutto but I think a light touch is good here but by all mean buy double the prosciutto and wrap each spear if you desire (although go a bit lighter on the salt at the end if you do that). Drizzle with some oil and brush the edges with egg glaze if desired. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes until the pastry is golden. Serve with a salad and season with salt and pepper.
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