Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Central Pennsylvania
Asparagus in Puff Pastry
I finally got around to making this last night, after tinkering with it for a week. Not sure if it ought to be here, or in the Pastries Thread, but here goes:
Asparagus in Puff Pastry
(4 appetizer servings; 2 side-dish servings)
1/2 pound fresh asparagus spears, rinsed & dried
3/4 cup (up to 1 cup) ricotta cheese
1/2 cup grated mozzarella
1/4 cup grated parmesan
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp dried dill weed
1/4 to 1/2 tsp ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 to 1/2 chili powder, to taste
a few dashes of Tabasco, to taste (optional)
1 sheet (about 12 X 12 inches) phyllo (the store-bought frozen kind)
cornmeal (up to 1/2 cup)
(for the boil) 2 quarts water, 1 TBS kosher salt, and 1 TBS cider vinegar
(the eggwash) 1 egg, plus 1 TBS water, whisked thoroughly
First, trim the tough ends off the asparagus stalks; save them for broth, or discard them.
Next, cut the remaining stalks into thirds, lengthwise. There should be (approximately) 2/3 stalks and 1/3 tips. Separate the stalk portions from the tip portions.
In a saucepan, combine the water, 1 TBS kosher salt, and vinegar. Bring to a boil, then add the stalk portions of the asparagus. Allow the liquid to return to a boil, and cook for 3 minutes.
Next, add the tips of the asparagus. Again, allow the liquid to return to a boil, then cook for an additional 1-2 minutes (time may vary, based on the thickness of the asparagus).
When done, quickly drain the asparagus, and dump it into an icewater bath. Allow the asparagus to cool in the icewater for at least 10 minutes. When it has cooled thoroughly, drain the asparagus and wrap it in a few layers of paper towel; set aside.
In a mixing bowl, combine the ricotta, mozzarella, parmesan, garlic, basil, salt, ground pepper, dill weed and chili powder. Mix until thoroughly combined, then taste for seasoning. Adjust salt and pepper as necessary, and if desired, add Tabasco.
When the cheese mixture has been thoroughly mixed, add the cooked asparagus; use a rubber spatula, and take care not to break up the asparagus pieces. If desired, the mixture may be covered and refrigerated at this point (it should keep for a day or two).
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Prepare the eggwash in a small bowl.
Sprinkle cornmeal onto work surface, and lay out the phyllo sheet. Using a pastry cutter or pizza cutter, slice the phyllo sheet into 4 squares. Spoon about 1/4 of the asparagus/cheese mixture onto the center of each phyllo square. Expect some leftover filling; you still want to be able to fold and seal the phyllo.
Use a pastry brush to apply a light coating of eggwash to the outer edges of the first phyllo square. Fold the square diagonally, corner-to-corner, to enclose the asparagus/cheese mix (have a towel handy--this part can be a bit messy). Be sure to seal the edges thoroughly, taking care not to flatten the phyllo too much. Repeat this process with the remaining three phyllo squares. If desired, fold the corners of the pastries under (the result will look sort of like a giant tortellini).
Place the pastries on a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake at 400 F for 15-17 minutes (check them after about 12 minutes; if some are browning more quickly than others, carefully re-arrange them on the baking sheet). They're done when golden brown and quite puffy in the middle.
Sounds like a lot of work, but it takes less than an hour, start-to-finish (and most of it can be done in advance). REAL yummy!