Celebrate Spring with two seasonal tarts

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by Aimee

Cooking has always been Aimée's preferred recreational activity, creative outlet, and source of relaxation. After nearly ten years in the professional cooking industry, she traded her tongs and clogs for cookie cutters, cloth diapers and a laptop, serving as editor at Simple Bites.


All photos are by Aimee.

Ah, spring… After a long winter of eating potatoes, squash and carrots, she welcomes us with a tantalizing array of fresh new produce: bright green asparagus, cheery red radishes and seductive, oh-so-sweet strawberries.

Why does this bounty taste so good right about now? Because this is exactly when God intended it to be eaten! It is in season, meaning this is the time of the year it is meant to be enjoyed. It has naturally ripened on the vine or in the earth, it is fresh and, best of all, it’s affordable.

These days, with every fruit and vegetable known to man available year-round at our supermarkets, awareness of our planet’s natural food seasons is rapidly diminishing.

Curious as to why you should eat seasonal produce, as opposed to whatever is featured on the front of your weekly flier? Here are a few reasons:

Eating in season…

  • Tastes better! It is ripened naturally (as opposed to picked prematurely for shipping purposes), harvested when perfect, and its sheer freshness provides us with a boost of extra nutrition. Surprise! Your fruit is actually is full of juice and flavour when it is enjoyed in its appropriate growing season.
  • Saves on energy used to transport food. Way too many veggies are jet-lagged from those long trips from South America to your neighborhood grocery store – and more seriously, too much fossil fuel is being consumed to get them there.
  • Supports local growers. Buttercup loved Farm Boy in The Princess Bride, and we love him too. Wouldn’t you rather support your community and the home team? While you may not see your purchases making an impact on a global scale, your requests for local, farm-grown food might change a Farm Boy’s future.
  • Saves money. Costs are way, way down for produce in season. What’s not to like about that? You may not realize, but we pay a premium for food that has traveled a long way. Skip the berries selling for $4.99 a pint in January (they’re unripe and tasteless anyway), and wait until May when they are practically giving them away for $.99 a pint, and they taste like strawberries should.
  • Teaches our children about nature’s cycles and the passing of the seasons. Most kids can tell you that pumpkins turn up in the fall, but how many can pinpoint the asparagus season?

To better inform yourself of what is available and when, a great site to start with is Eat the Seasons. Updated every week, it lists what food is currently in season (including things like oysters and wild mushrooms, because they, too, have seasons) and is full of tips and recipe ideas.

I don’t know about you, but I am tired of disappointing off-season produce. This past winter I had enough rock-hard  peaches, completely tasteless cantaloupe, and woody pineapples to drive this point home to me. Why I practically threw that money away, I’m not entirely sure, but it probably boils down to consumerism at it’s finest: I want what I want, when I want it.

From now on, I am going to try to celebrate each season as it comes and take my menu-planning cues from nature.

Here are two recipes to get started. Granted, fresh strawberries need no other embellishment than a dollop of whipped cream, and asparagus can be simply steamed and served with a slathering of butter; however, should you want to dress either of these noble spring ingredients up, here are two simple recipes for an appetizer and a dessert.

Both recipes are adapted from Martha Stewart.

asparagus tart

Asparagus Gruyère Tart

  • Flour, for the work surface
  • 500 grams puff pastry
  • 1 1/2 cups Gruyère cheese, shredded
  • 1 1/2 pounds medium or thick asparagus
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. On a floured surface, roll the puff pastry into a 16×10-inch rectangle. Trim uneven edges. Place pastry on a baking sheet. With a sharp knife, lightly score pastry dough 1 inch in from the edges to mark a rectangle. Using a fork, pierce dough inside the markings at 1/2-inch intervals. Bake until golden, about 15 minutes.

Remove the pastry shell from the oven, and sprinkle with Gruyère. Trim the bottoms of the asparagus spears to fit crosswise inside the tart shell; arrange in a single layer over Gruyère, alternating ends and tips. Brush with oil, and season with salt and pepper. Bake until spears are tender, 20 to 25 minutes.

Serve warm.

strawberry galette

Strawberry Galette

  • 1 pound strawberries, hulled
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 tablespoon cold butter, cut into pieces
  • 250 grams puff pastry

On a floured surface, roll pastry to 1/4 inch thick round. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet and chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350F.

Cut strawberries lengthwise into 1/4 inch slices. Toss with sugar and cornstarch, and immediately arrange in concentric circles on the dough – start 1 inch from edge, overlapping slices slightly. Fold the edge of dough over the berries. Whisk together yolk and water. Brush the dough with egg wash, and dot berries with butter.

Bake until pastry is golden brown, about 40 minutes. Cool. Slice like a pizza and serve with whipped cream or ice cream.

Do you have a favorite month at your local farmer’s market? What is a seasonal dish you love?

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Comments

  1. Came across your website and yum, don’t they look good! Not our season here though, they will have to wait until November. Did you intend the pun in the title? It put a smile on my face anyway.

    Melissa´s last blog post…Don’t be a Drip when it comes to Saving Water

  2. great recipes and nice choices of food to eat. healthy foods is what i prefer eating.

  3. I really enjoy those first few weeks of spring when you finally get a glimpse (and a taste) of fresh food. If you have waited for months for fresh asparagus and strawberries they just taste so much better.

    This Thursday I hope to launch a project called Food Origins Thursday. It is part of my homesteading series, but hopefully will take on a life of it’s own. It will chronicle our own journey through eating locally and growing as much of our own food as possible. I hope to encourage others to know where their food comes from. It goes right in line with your book club.

    Shannon´s last blog post…Homesteading, Part One: The Who, What, Where and Why

  4. Oh, that Strawberry Galette sounds so good. I love strawberries. One of my favorite seasonal treats is strawberry shortcake.

    Your post also made me think of a tart that my mom used to make for us growing up. It was a fig tart and it was delicious. We had a fig tree in the yard and when the figs were ripe, she would cook them down and make these tarts. Yum!

    Amanda @ Mommy’s Idea Book´s last blog post…Simple Solutions: Freezing Casseroles

  5. The Strawberry Galette looks incredible.

    My spring favorites are Fiddle Head Ferns and “baby” Artichokes–although I have a hard time finding both!

    Mama Koala´s last blog post…Earth Day Freebies

  6. That Strawberry Gelette looks delicious!! I think even my son who is super picky would try that!! I Love Strawberries!! I grow them in my garden in the summer and Love it!! I love getting apples locally in the fall and going strawberry and rasberry picking here in the summer. There is nothing better then fresh picked fruit!!

    Onna´s last blog post…Earth Day Activities

  7. Oh both of those recipes look lovely! Can’t wait, just another week until our farmer’s market opens here! Yipee!

    Angie @ The Creative Mama´s last blog post…introducing & a contest!

  8. Mmm! I made the asparagus tart for Easter dinner and it was delicious. My puff pastry got much darker than in your photo. Any ideas why? Also, it did not puff up as much. This was my first time using frozen puff pastry.

  9. Wow – those recipes look AMAZING!

    I really like how you said to take your cues from nature…

  10. Oh my…asparagus and Gruyere. Yum! Gruyere, although expensive, is so yummy to cook with. Love it. I am so going to try this recipe, very soon. My hubby doesn’t really like asparagus, but I love it. He will eat it if I make it anyway. :)

    MB´s last blog post…Kid Art Display + Storage

  11. I am not even a fan of asparagus….but that tart looks yummy. I am wanting to plant a garden to add homegrown veggies to our meals. Man…I could make a lot of “seasonal” tarts that way.

    J.J.´s last blog post…Extreme Makeover {Me edition}

  12. Living in Northern Canada, even the “in-season” foods are shipped from the USA or farther (much of the time) … sometimes it is discouraging when trying to make healthy & earth-friendly changes. In a devotional this morning I read, “imperfection and joy can co-exist”. This reminds me to keep doing the best I can and not become so disheartened when I cannot do things perfectly.

  13. Hummmmm….now those are recipes i’ve never tried…but would like to!! thanks for sharing those!

    Tara B.´s last blog post…Wordless Wednesday

  14. mmm looks yummy! One thing I really wanna do this spring is Strawberry Jam. I have never done it and I really wanna learn! :)

    lvlc @ FromMomToMom´s last blog post…EcoConscious: What are you doing on EARTH DAY?

  15. Those both look so delish! I am going to make one this weekend for sure! Thanks for the inspiration and spring joy!

  16. Great post! Can’t wait to try the asparagus tart (maybe for Mother’s Day Brunch?!) I love eating with the seasons for so many of the same reasons you listed. Hope you don’t mind me sharing a post I did a while back about replenishing your kitchen with Springtime foods : http://tinyurl.com/bq383f

    Lisa @ WellGrounded Life´s last blog post…Energy Drains

  17. I love asparagus and that tart looks so good! My favorite summer time dish is a dessert, Rhubarb crisp. A bit tart a bit sweet and with a scoop of vanilla ice cream it’s amazing!

    Thanks for the recipes Tsh!

    Sherri (Serene Journey)´s last blog post…Form Meaningful Relationships

  18. These recipes looked so good… the strawberry galette is in the oven right now. But the asparagus looks so delicious!! Can’t wait to try both!

  19. Yum! I’m going to try these ASAP! I’ve been inspired to eat more of our foods in season in the last year, after reading Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. It’s been fun to figure out, and there’s something very grounding about knowing what grows at what time. It’s kind of sad that most of us are so disconnected from our food that we don’t even know when (or if) it grows in our areas. The farmer’s market is my favorite place from April (last weekend :)) to October to try not only seasonal produce, but also produce not carried by my grocery store (HUGE savoy cabbage, patty squash, fingerling potatoes… yum!)

    Kendra´s last blog post…Join Your Local Museum

  20. Love Love Love the looks of the asparagus tart. Can’t wait to try it out tomorrow. I don’t know if I have a favorite month but Summer is sure wonderful at the farmer’s market.
    My current favorite seasonal dishes are Asparagus and mushroom risotto and chicken and artichoke crepes.

  21. Amen, sister! I’m so with you on trying to eat more seasonally. It just makes sense. Thank you so much for that website- I think it’s going to be a great resource for me.

    Nicole aka Gidget´s last blog post…More Than Skin Deep

  22. Before I started cooking for myself, I never thought twice about buying out of season produce. Now that I pay attention to how things taste and what goes into my meals, I’m much more conscious of seasonality. Not to mention I’m not going to pay $6 for a pint of strawberries out of season! :)

    Culinary Wannabe´s last blog post…I’m back – and with Spring Risotto

  23. Mmmm…that looks too pretty to eat! I am so glad you reminded me of the idea to eat “in-season” items….so much better for us. Now I just have to find a local organic farmer. Can’t believe it is actually hard to find…but have not been able to locate any YET. Caroline *mommy of two

  24. That’s my problem with foods like this. I just wanna stare at them. How do you guys make something so pretty and then tear it up! Oh the agony!

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