Asparagus Ricotta-Gruyëre Tarts

Asparagus Ricotta Gruyëre Tarts Lance Lawson“Although these bite-size crustless tarts are easy to make – they are certain to create a big impression with your guests.”

tarts in panThe bite-size tarts are delicious addition to any large or small gathering.  And because they are crustless they come together quickly. I make them by the dozens and keep a ready supply on hand in the freezer for parties or unexpected guests. I developed this recipe because I was looking an hors d’oeuvre which I could easily make in bulk (scooping batter into mini-muffin tins is way preferable to hand assembling dozens of individual pieces). And I was looking for a cocktail snack which would also freeze and reheat well (they stay moist and stand up beautifully). Mini-quiches have become somewhat passe thanks to the frozen foods section at Trader Joe’s – so these tiny tarts offer a gourmet alternative. To further boost the flavor I use fresh ricotta (which I strain overnight in the fridge) and a hearty fresh grated gruyere vs the pre-shredded swiss variety. And you can also use this recipe for larger tarts – which would be a chic addition to a light lunch menu. To make a dozen follow the recipe below, substituting standard size muffin pans and increasing the baking time to 35 minutes. For the recipe:

Crustless Asparagus Ricotta-Gruyëre Tarts
yields around 3 dozen

1/2 Cup Ricotta Cheese
8 ounces Gruyëre finely shredded
1/2 Cup Buttermilk
1/2 Cup Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon Granulated Sugar
1 Teaspoon Kosher Salt
2 Large Eggs
1 1/2 Cups Fresh Asparagus
1 1/4 C All-purpose Flour
1/2 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 Teaspoon Baking Powder

If using Fresh Ricotta Cheese – a day before place the Ricotta in a fine sieve fitted over a mixing bowl – cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight (allowing excess moisture to drain from the cheese). Fresh Ricotta is available at most gourmet supermarkets including Whole Foods.

Prior to preparing the batter, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and coat mini muffin pans with non-stick cooking spray. (I use two 2 pans – alternating between them)

Wash and thoroughly dry the fresh asparagus. Remove the tough ends and slice the green sections into thin small chunks. Set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl combine the Gruyere and Ricotta – stirring constantly until they are well integrated.

In a separate large bowl combine the buttermilk, olive oil, sugar and salt. Whisk in the eggs until the mixture is well combined and smooth. Gently fold in the asparagus and cheese mixture. Add the flour, baking powder and baking soda – mixing until everything is just combined. Do not over mix.

Using a table spoon fill each muffin cup about 3/4 full. Bake at 350 degrees for around 10-12 minutes or until the tarts are lightly brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. They should be spongey. Do not over-bake.

Let the tarts cool in the pan for a few minutes and then transfer to a baking rack.

For maximum flavor serve the tarts warm or cool to room temperature and reheat in a warm oven prior to serving.

* I make these in batches like cookies – cooling one batch and refilling the tin while another batch is baking.

** To make well in advance, freeze the completely cooled tarts on baking sheets and then combine the individually frozen pieces into large zip-lock bags for storage. Reheat the tarts on a baking sheet in a 350 degree oven for 10 – 15 minutes or until piping hot. Do not over-bake. 


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