On the way to work we pass kilometre after kilometre of asparagus fields on the flat plains of Koo Wee Rup. I’ve watched pickers, armed with long handled sequesters, lean over slightly, hold the tip and cut the asparagus stalk as we drive by early in the morning. It’s a wonder that asparagus is so cheap in the local markets considering the labour intensive harvesting!
After daily seeing these workers pick asparagus, I wondered how I could use this delicious vegetable and struck on the idea of making a tart. This tart celebrates spring with the delicious combination of asparagus with the tangy taste of lemon.
While the tart base is vegan and gluten free, I’ve obviously made the labne from goat yogurt, to complement the tart lemon taste. (You could use goat or sheep yogurt or try coyo yogurt for a vegan diet.) I let the yogurt drain for about 18 hours to make the labne, but if you require a very thick mixture, you could let it drain for 24 hours. The tart is full-bodied in flavour and is perfect for a warm weather lunch or dinner.
Health benefits –
· Asparagus is a very good source of fibre, folate, and vitamins.
· Asparagus is packed with antioxidants that help to get rid of cell-damaging free radicals. Like leafy greens, asparagus contains folate, which works with vitamin B12 to help with thinking and concentration.
ASPARAGUS & LEMON LABNE TART
GF, T, V option
For the tart base: (35 cm x 13 cm tart pan)
1 cup almonds
½ cup sunflower seeds
½ cup rolled oats (GF)
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons chilled coconut oil
3-4 tablespoons cold water
For the filling:
500 grams (1 lb. 1 oz.) yogurt, or coyo yogurt for V
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
1 lemon, juice
1 tablespoon flat leafed parsley, roughly chopped
3 bunches of thin asparagus (approx. 20 stalks)
zest of 2 lemons
2 cloves garlic, sliced
Himalayan salt and freshly ground pepper
almond slices, for decoration
Line a deep bowl with either a thin tea towel or double layer of cheesecloth. Stir the salt into the yogurt, and pour the yogurt onto the cloth. Gather the edges of the cloth together and tie securely over a stick (like a dough rolling stick), and hang the yogurt over the bowl to drain overnight. If it’s summer, place the bowl in the refrigerator. The longer the yogurt drains, the thicker the labne will be.
Preheat the oven to 160’C/325’F/Gas 3. Grease the tart pan. Pulse almonds, sunflower seeds and rolled oats to a fine powder, and pour into a bowl. Shave chilled coconut with a spoon and mix into the flour with fingers until crumbly, then add water 1 tablespoon at a time until the mixture can be formed into a ball with your hands. (I used 3 tablespoons of water). Press the mixture evenly into the tart pan base and sides. Prick with a fork, and bake for 25 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Snap wooden ends off the asparagus stalks. Place a fry pan on medium heat, pour in a splash of olive oil, add asparagus stalks, zest of 1 lemon, slices of garlic, and season with salt and pepper. Lightly sweat for several minutes. Meanwhile, mix chopped parsley and lemon juice with the labne, and season with salt and pepper. Spread the tart base with the labne mixture, and arrange the asparagus stalks in rows on top. Sprinkle the sweated garlic slices, drizzle a little lemon juice and olive oil over it, and bake for a further 20 minutes at 160’C/325’F/Gas 3. Before serving, you may wish to sprinkle almond slices and slice haphazardly. The tart is best served warm with a fresh salad.