Asparagus and Garlic Scape Tart with Polenta Crust

Asparagus Tart

Last weekend I found myself in Blacksburg, VA on Saturday morning, with a long drive ahead of me back to West Point.  I decided to check out their farmers’ market so I wouldn’t miss out on a week of local shopping.  It was quite possibly the best market I have been to.  After making the rounds at the Blacksburg Farmers Market, I ended up with a huge bounty of beautiful produce to take home, and we only went $2 over our $20 spending limit!  (I have to impose spending limits at the market, or else I will buy more food than we can eat before it spoils).  Strawberries, raspberries, cherries, apples, rhubarb, butter lettuce, asparagus, garlic scapes, radishes, herbs– I couldn’t believe what I came away with.  I knew I would use these foods to concoct a meal for this year’s One Local Summer challenge.

Now, I have to admit I cheated a bit with the meal.  Generally, the meals are restricted to only local foods with spices, oils, vinegars, and things of that nature also allowed.  I am a little fuzzy on the rules for dry goods, but as I had them filling my pantry, I decided I would go ahead and use them.  After my Anadama Bread, I have a lot of polenta left, so I wanted to use it.  You can use any polenta recipe you like to make this tart crust.  The polenta is full of flavor and adds texture to the recipe, bringing a richness to the tart.  This plays off the green flavors of the asparagus and garlic scapes, which are slowly roasted in the oven as the tart cooks.  This tart is a simple concotion, but it bursts with spring flavors.  It’s a great way to show off new produce!

Asparagus and Garlic Scape Tart with Polenta Crust

for the polenta crust:

  • 1 C polenta
  • 1/2 C chicken stock (veggie stock to make it vegan)
  • 2 1/2 C water
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning (or a blend of rosemary, thyme, parsley, sage, and oregano)
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • pinch of red pepper flakes

for the tart filling

  • 1/2 lbs of fresh asparagus
  • 1/2 lbs of garlic scapes
  • 1 onion
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Start by cooking the polenta.  Bring the water and stock to a boil.  Slowly pour in the polenta while whisking constantly to prevent lumps.  Season the polenta with the salt, Italian seasoning, and peppers.  Reduce the temperature on the polenta so that it is barely simmering.  Cook, stirring very frequently for one hour.  Be careful, as the polenta will have a tendency to bubble and pop, and it will be very hot and sticky!  After an hour, remove the polenta from the heat and let it cool a bit.  You may drizzle in some olive oil or add some butter if you’d like.  Spray a tart pan with spray oil.  When the polenta is cool enough to handle, spread it about 1/4 inch thick on the bottom of a tart pan with a removable bottom.  Press polenta up the sides of the pan, as well.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate the crust until you are ready to bake the tart– up to one day.  You can also double the polenta recipe and use half for the tart crust and the rest for another recipe.

When you are ready to begin preparing the tart, preheat your oven to 425º.  Remove the crust from the refrigerator, dock the bottom with a fork, and lightly drizzle olive oil on the crust.  Bake until the crust is golden and crispy– about 25 minutes.

While the tart crust bakes, trim the tough ends from the asparagus.  Cut all asparagus to roughly the same length.  Then, cut the garlic scapes to match.  Toss with olive oil and lemon juice, season with salt and pepper, and set aside.  Slice the onion into thin half moons.  Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a medium skillet, and saute the onion until it is very clear and translucent, and just beginning to caramelize– about 10 minutes.  Remove the onion from the heat.

After you remove the tart crust from the oven, fill the tart with the onion.  Arrange the garlic scapes on top of the of onion in a circle.  Then, layer the asparagus on top of that with the tips facing the same direction.  Bake the tart at 425º for 15 minutes.  Reduce the heat to 350º and continue baking for another 30 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes before slicing.  The tart will be a little tricky to slice, so use a sharp knife and have something to lift it out of the pan.

Serves 6 as part of a meal, or 2-3 as a standalone dish.

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21 thoughts on “Asparagus and Garlic Scape Tart with Polenta Crust

    • Garlic scapes are the green shoots that sprout from garlic as it’s growing. They have a “green,” garlicky flavor and cook much like asparagus. They are a very seasonal items and are only really found in the spring. Some stores sell them as garlic spears or green garlic. I definitely recommend them! I used them in some pesto instead of garlic cloves and it lent a nice garlic background while keeping the herby nature of the pesto in the front.

      • Actually, green garlic is the whole immature plant. In the spring, growers thin out the plants and the entire shoot, from small bulb (with non-developed cloves) through to the roots and all the green leaves, is edible (I like to put some good celtic salt on a leaf, fold over and eat raw). This is usually the plant before the scapes appear. Scapes on the other hand are the flower shoots and they come out often coiled which makes them have a curly look (can be worn as bracelets even); if left on the plant the scape would straighten out and flower. Both green garlic and the scapes can be used for pesto but there are differences in the textures. Scapes are more pulpy while the green leaves can be a bit more fiber-like (though not in a bad way especially the younger and fresher it is). Green garlic might be sold as a bundled bulbs much like green onions (scallions) while scapes get sold as bunches or even loose/bulk (I just bought 30 at 10 for $1). Scapes are great for grilling with a bit of salt (and oil for sticking) but are usually a bit more sharp raw than the green garlic though the flower part is mellower than the stem. The intensity of both also depends on the variety of garlic (there are dozens) and the growing conditions.

        On another note, this recipe is tagged as “vegan” but chicken stock is decidedly not vegan. Those who are vegan do know this but those who perhaps looking for something to make a visiting vegan might not. This can lead to several unpleasant circumstances that include being fed something a person doesn’t eat while being assured it is indeed made special for them. Then, after consumption may come accusations of being inconsistent and a hypocrite for not eating animals but having no problem with broth made from the animals. Ugly for everyone involved.

        However, as a dish (correcting for the stock) it looks and sounds marvelous. The crust is a thing of beauty. Your various pestos sound (and look) fabulous too, especially the radish leaf pesto (radish flowers are also edible and make for pretty garnishes).

        • Very nice explanation of the differences between green garlic and garlic scapes. As for the vegan tag, thanks for pointing that out! I actually had made a transcription error when typing out the recipe. I usually specify chicken or vegetable stock for polenta as it can be made either way. I made this one with chicken stock and forgot to add the other. I am glad you like the pestos! So easy and flavorful.

  1. Never heard of a garlic scape after living on this earth for 53 years, lol. Live and learn! Are you talking about the green parts that grown above ground as the garlic grows?

    • Hi Deb! I am talking of the green parts that grow above the ground. Right now in spring they are tender and flavorful. I’ve used them in place of garlic in pesto (recipe forthcoming) and in this tart. Both were excellent! On to roasting them next.

  2. Beautiful recipe. I love discovering new markets, and will sometimes take weekend trips specifically to find new farms and produce. This is especially easy to do in the Bay Area. You should enter the Paper Chef contest with some of your leftover asparagus!

    • I wish I had some leftover asparagus! We went on an asparagus binge. But, I shall be getting more on my next market run. I’ll have to look into Paper Chef at that point! Right now I am so fortunate, because I don’t live in a town, but I do live about a 20-30 minute drive from dozens of markets. I’m trying new ones until I find the perfect one. If I lived near Blacksburg, my hunt would be over. Sigh.

    • Oh, you’ve got them in your garden! I am so jealous. I think my next tactic would be just to roast them up and bundle with prosciutto – much like I do asparagus spears. So good.

    • Oh, they are so delightful. I usually am not fortunate enough to find them at market, but I was so happy. It was easy — just a long and leisurely recipe. Delicious.

  3. I love all things tart – savory or sweet. Great picture and the polenta crust makes it doubly interesting.
    Thanks for stopping by our Petites Bouchees booth, Haley and I am so glad to finally meet you! 🙂

    • Thanks, Veronica! I loved loved loved your macarons. The hazelnut and salted caramel – swoon! So glad you liked the pictures – I loved the polenta tart crust and will be using it again.

    • Oh, do look for them. They might be called garlic shoots, or spears, or stems. Regardless of name, they’re wonderful paired and cooked with asparagus. The texture and cooking methods are virtually the same, but it adds a variety of flavor.

  4. Pingback: Radish Leaf Pesto « Appoggiatura

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