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Niles Pie’s Asparagus Sweet Pepper Tart

Makes two 8-inch round, two 9 x 4–inch rectangular, or one free-form tart

Photo courtesy of Niles Pie

For the tart dough
2½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
½ pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
¼ to ½ cup ice water

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. Toss in the butter, and either with your fingers or with a dough cutter, rub the butter in until the mixture resembles coarse meal and there are no large pieces of butter. Make a well in the center and pour in the water. Mix quickly to form a rough dough, then divide it and form into two flattened balls. Refrigerate for an hour (or overnight).

For the filling
1 bunch pencil-thin asparagus, trimmed and briefly steamed
2 red bell peppers, roasted, peeled, and thinly sliced
4 eggs
1 cup whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
¼ teaspoon salt and a few grinds of black pepper
Whole nutmeg for grating
½ cup cheese of your choice (shredded cheddar or mozzarella or crumbled feta; more, less, or none to taste)
Fresh dill, tarragon, or chives, some chopped and some left whole for garnish

For 8-inch round tarts, roll out dough disks to 9-inch rounds and carefully tuck into the pans. For 9 x 4 inch rectangular tarts, roll dough to 10 x 5 rectangles and fit into the pans, pressing carefully into the corners. Trim excess dough and refrigerate for at least a half hour. If making a free-form tart, build up the edges and take care when pouring in the egg mixture. (Use tart pans that have removable bottoms, if you have them.)

Preheat oven to 375°. Place tart pans on a cookie sheet (or two) and line the shells with parchment, wax paper, or foil, filling them with raw rice or beans to keep the dough from puffing up as you partially bake (blind bake) the shells for 15 minutes or until the edges are just starting to turn brown. Remove from oven and let cool slightly before removing the paper and beans.

Turn oven down to 325°. Whisk together the eggs, milk, and cream. Whisk in salt, pepper, and a few scrapings of nutmeg. Sprinkle the bottoms of the tart shells with half the cheese. Sprinkle the chopped portion of your fresh herbs on top of the cheese, then arrange the asparagus and peppers evenly over the cheese and sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top. Slowly pour in the egg/cream mixture. Carefully place the pans in the middle rack of the oven and bake 30 to 40 minutes until firm and very lightly browned. Remove from the oven, cool before removing tarts from pans. Arrange the reserved herbs on top before serving.

Saturday March 24, 4–7pm or
Sunday March 25, noon–3pm
Baking Class: Savory Spring Tarts
Niles Pie Company, 32990 Alvarado-Niles Rd,
ste 960, Union City

Learn to make the tart recipe above with master baker and Niles Pie founder Carolyn Berke, who says, “We’ll gather up local greens and mushrooms, some fresh cheese, and propel ourselves into the new season in style!” Aprons, rolling pins, and all needed materials provided. Cost: $85 includes light snacks and a little wine. Max participants: 8. Open to ages 15 and over, or age 12 and over with a parent in the class. Info and registration: nilespie.com

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