Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Cheese-filled Puff Pastries with Roasted Green Asparagus

Sometimes, I enjoy finding a recipe, shopping for it, and then spending hours following dozens of steps.
And sometimes, I like to look through my refrigerator and pantry and design a meal around what I have on hand.
This is one of the latter cases.
I had a bunch of leftover asparagus spears (minus the heads) from this recipe, I had frozen puff pastry that was almost past its prime, and I had a little basket of button mushrooms that were left over from the English breakfast I made for the boyfriend on our day off. Rummaging through my fridge, I also found a container of teeny tiny fresh mozzarella balls (yes, I buy food because it's cute) and a fresh package of pure sheep cheese. If you've never had sheep cheese, you have to try it. It tastes a little like goat cheese, but very mild, with a soft and silky texture. It's not as salty and tangy as goat cheese, but has a flavor similar to whole milk.
This is a good summer meal and can easily be prepared using just a single oven dish or baking tray, depending on how much you are making.
This recipe serves 3 average or 2 very hungry eaters.

Roasted Asparagus:

- a bunch green asparagus spears, cut into 2-inch long pieces (5 cm)
- 2 garlic cloves, sliced
- 2 Tablespoons pine nuts
- about 3 Tablespoons of olive oil
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 1 teaspoon of black pepper
- juice of 1/2 lemon

  • Put asparagus pieces in an oven dish
  • Sprinkle with garlic, pine nuts, salt and pepper
  • Drizzle with olive oil
  • Bake them at 200°C/390°F for 15-20 minutes, or until their edges are starting to turn brown. If you're making the pastries as well, prepare them and place them in the same dish before baking.
  • Take out of the oven and drizzle with lemon juice.

Cheese-filled Puff Pastry:

- 3 sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed
- 100 g/3.5 ounces button mushrooms, sliced
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- about 2 Tablespoons thyme
- 50 g/1.75 ounces tiny fresh mozzarella balls (or equivalent in big mozzarella balls, finely diced)
- 50 g/1.75 ounces sheep cheese, crumbled
- salt and pepper to taste
- milk, butter or 1 egg, for brushing

  • Sautée onions and garlic in a saucepan over medium heat for 2 minutes.
  • Add mushrooms and thyme.
  • Sautée until the mushrooms are soft
  • Transfer to medium bowl
  • Add cheeses, mix well
  • Add pepper and salt to taste (go easy on the salt, the cheeses are already salty)
  • Divide mixture evenly between the pastry sheets
  • Fold over the edges and pinch them closed. Use a fork to seal the edges.
  • Place the pastry pockets in the same pan as the asparagus, brush with milk, butter or egg
  • Bake for 20 minutes at 200°C/390°F.

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