Asparagus Quiche with Tomatoes and Tarragon
Serves 6 to 8
* 1 recipe Basic Single Pastry Crust or a Pre-Made Pastry Crust ( Recipe Below )
* 4 Tb olive oil
* 1 pound asparagus, rough ends discarded
* 2 shallots, skins removed, chopped
* 3 cloves garlic
* 1 cup walnuts
* 1 1/2 cups cooked navy beans, or 1 15-ounce can, drained and rinsed
* 1/4 cup loosely packed fresh tarragon, plus 2 Tb finely chopped
* 2 Tb cornstarch
* 3/4 tsp salt
* 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
* Several pinches of freshly ground black pepper
* 1/3 cup plain whole wheat bread crumbs
* 4 slices beefsteak or Holland tomato, or any really big tomato
1. Preheat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cut the tips off four pieces of the asparagus and set aside for garnish. Slice the rest into 1/2 inch lengths.
2. Saute the asparagus ( except for the reserved tips ) in a tablespoon of the olive oil for about 7 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. While the asparagus is cooking, place the walnuts, the 1/4 cup of tarragon, and the nutmeg, salt and pepper in a food processor. Pulse into crumbs, so that no whole walnuts are left.
4. Remove the asparagus from the pan and transfer to a shallow bowl to cool a bit. Saute the shallots in another tablespoon of the olive oil for about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for 3 more minutes, being careful not to burn it. Transfer the shallots and garlic to the asparagus and let cool for a few more minutes.
5. When the vegetables have stopped steaming, add them to the food processor. Pulse a few times and scrape down the sides. Add the beans and puree until relatively smooth, although the walnuts will still be grainy. Add the cornstarch ( sift first, if very clumpy ) and pulse until thoroughly combined. Transfer the mixture to a bowl ( use the bowl the veggies were cooling in, to cut down on dish duties ), cover, and refrigerate for about 45 minutes.
6. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Roll out the pastry dough to fit an 8 inch glass pie plate. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 15 minutes.
7. Remove the baked crust from the oven. Spoon the asparagus filling into the crust and smooth out evenly. Sprinkle the top with half the bread crumbs and drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Then, place the tomato slices on top of the bread crumbs with an asparagus tip between each tomato. Sprinkle on the remaining bread crumbs, some freshly ground black pepper, a few pinches of salt, and the chopped tarragon. Drizzle again with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil.
8. Bake for 45 minutes. Let cool for about 20 minutes before serving. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Basic Single Pastry Crust
Time - 20 minutes, plus chill time
Makes 1 pastry crust
* 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
* 1 Tb sugar
* 1/2 tsp salt
* 1/4 tsp baking powder
* 1/3 cup cold non-hydrogenated vegan shortening
* 1/4 cup cold water, plus 2 Tb if needed
* 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder. Add the shortening by the teaspoon, but you don't need to be precise about this. You just want to add it in small chunks in three batches and then cut it into flour with each additional.
2. Cut the shortening in until the dough in crumbly and pebbly.
3. Combine the vinegar with 1/4 cup of the water. Add the mixture to the dough in three batches, gently mixing it into the dough with a fork, until the dough holds together when pinched. If need be, add up to 2 tablespoons more water.
4. Gather the dough into a ball and knead gently a few times, just until it holds together. Sprinkle a clean work surface with flour, then flatten the ball into a disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about an hour.
5. When ready to roll out the crust, place a large piece of baking parchment on your work surface. Unwrap the dough and place it on the parchment. Sprinkle your rolling pin with flour and roll the dough into a 12 inch circle. It may slip around a bit from the parchment, but that's okay, just work steadily and gently. Your crust is now ready to use.
6. Lift the parchment and flip the crust into a pie plate. Tuck in and trim the edges.