Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Asparagus Tart with Shiitake 'Bacon'

Tarts are one of my favorite things. They're probably one of your favorite things too. (Who doesn't love them?) I know we're getting a little far out of asparagus season, but this tart will help you exit asparagus season with a bang! 

This tart has layers of flaky phyllo dough, which can be found in the freezer section of most grocery stores. You won't need the entire package of phyllo, but don't worry: there's another recipe on its way that will help you finish the package off! 

The tart has a creamy, lemon dijon and roasted garlic filling, and is topped with roasted asparagus spears and crispy, smoky shiitake 'bacon'. You know you want a slice! ;)

This tart makes a great appetizer or light lunch, and can be served with a fresh salad to make it into a light dinner. My choice of salad? Simply toss arugula, toasted pecans, and sliced strawberries in a balsamic dressing. Want to make your own balsamic? Try mixing 1 parts balsamic vinegar to 2 parts olive oil, adding a touch of Dijon mustard (which will emulsify the dressing and keep it from separating), and a touch of dried thyme. Easy!

Asparagus Tart with Shiitake 'Bacon'

Makes: 8 wedges

Time: 1 hour 15 minutes, plus 1 hour for marinating the shiitakes

For the Shiitake Bacon

3 cups shiitake mushrooms, rinsed and sliced (no need to be overly concerned about removing the stems)
1/4 cup water
1/3 cup shoyu or soy sauce
1 tablespoon liquid smoke
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil

For the Tart

1 pound of fresh asparagus, tough stems removed
1 yellow onion, sliced into half moons
1 head of garlic
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 14 oz package firm tofu
1/2 cup veggie broth
1/2 cup raw cashews, soaked for at least 4 hours
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons dried thyme
juice of half a lemon
2 tablespoons cornstarch
Vegan parmesan (optional)

10 sheets phyllo dough, thawed
1/4 cup olive oil


Combine the water, shoyu, liquid smoke, balsamic vinegar, and olive oil in a shallow bowl. Add the shiitake mushroom slices and toss to coat. Let marinate for an hour or more. 

Preaheat the oven to 425ºF. Strain the mushrooms from the marinade and reserve the marinade for another use (smoky tempeh or tofu?!). Spread the mushrooms out evenly on the pan. You can roast the shiitakes while roasting the asparagus, onion, and garlic, as explained below.

Prepare the vegetables to be roasted. Place the asparagus and chopped onion on a separate baking sheet from the shiitakes. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil, being sure to keep the onion on one side of the pan and the asparagus on the other. For the garlic, cut the pointy top of the head off, and drizzle the remaining tablespoon of olive oil into it. Place the vegetables and shiitakes in the oven and roast until the garlic is very soft, the onion is beginning to caramelize, the asparagus is browning, and the shiitakes are becoming crispy in some places, but are still chewy in others. This will take about 30 minutes, and you will need to stir the shiitakes (but not the other veggies) occasionally. Remove the shiitakes and veggies from the oven and set the asparagus and shiitakes aside. Reduce the heat to 375ºF.

While the vegetables are roasting, prepare the crust and filling. For the crust, lay the phyllo dough out flat, and cover with a clean, slightly damp towel to keep it moist as you work. Using a brush, coat the inside of a 9x13 casserole pan with the olive oil. Then, brush the first sheet of phyllo with oil. Lay the oiled sheet into the pan. If any edges are hanging over the edge of the pan, you can fold these back in on themselves (no need to be super neat about it--that's the beauty of phyllo dough!). Brush the next sheet with oil, lay in pan and repeat with the remaining 8 sheets of phyllo. Place the crust in the oven for 10 minutes while you prepare the filling. 

For the filling, place the tofu, veggie broth, cashews, Dijon, thyme, lemon juice, and cornstarch in a blender. Remove the garlic cloves from their papery skin and add the garlic and the onion. Blend on high until well combined. Pour the filling into the crust. Arrange the asparagus spears in a lattice pattern (or however you like!) across the top of the tart. (Note: the lattice pattern can be difficult to cut. For a simpler version, chop the asparagus spears into 2-inch pieces and sprinkle on the top.) 

Bake the tart for 35 minutes, or until the filling has become firm and the crust is golden. Sprinkle with the shiitake bacon and a few teaspoons of vegan parmesan, if using, and bake for 5 minutes longer. Remove from heat and let cool for at least 5 minutes before serving. If serving hot, the filling will be a little soft, but will firm up as it cools. 


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