These savory asparagus and pecorino tartlets are a favorite picnic dish of mine—they’re just the right size to hold in your hand, yet they feel substantial enough for a meal. I make them with asparagus and pecorino cheese, but you could just as well play around with the filling: caramelized red peppers with feta cheese and a hint of cilantro, or chunks of braised fennel with a little Manchego and fresh mint. —Skye | From My Dining Table
To make the pastry, sift together the flour and a pinch of salt into a large bowl. Toss in the cubed butter, then rub it into the flour with your fingers until it takes on the consistency of sand.
Add the water, little by little, bringing the dough together with your hands. If the dough is crumbly and dry, add a little more water until it feels soft and pliable (rather like the texture of play-doh).
Roll the dough into a ball, wrap it in plastic wrap, and pop it in the fridge for at least 2 to 3 hours or, ideally, overnight.
To make the tarts, preheat the oven to 350° F (180° C) and grease six small fluted pans (roughly 4 inches [10 centimeters] in diameter).
Roll the pastry out to a single thin layer then cut circles, roughly 1/2 inch (1 centimeter) wider in diameter than your pans and lay each round of pastry over the pan, pressing it down into the fluted edges. Use a rolling pin to level out the edges and then cut off any excess pastry.
Prick the bottom of each pan several times with a fork, cover with squares of parchment paper and fill with baking beans (or rice) to hold the paper down, before setting them in the oven to blind bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until the pastry has become very lightly colored.
While the pastry is blind baking, make your filling. Roughly chop the onion and toss it in a pan with a little oil and a pinch of salt. Set on a medium heat and cook for about 5 minutes, or until very slightly softened.
Roughly chop the asparagus (discarding the tougher part of the stalks) and toss them in the pan with the onion to cook for another 5 minutes. Set the vegetables aside.
Crack the eggs into a small bowl and beat lightly with a fork; then add the cream and grate in the pecorino and mix well. Add a little salt and pepper to taste.
Take the tartlets out of the the oven and remove the weights and parchment paper. Spoon the cooked asparagus and onion into the pastry cases, and pour over the egg mixture—you want the filling to come up to just below the edge of the pastry cases.
Set the tarts back in the oven and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes, until golden on top.
Leave the tarts to cool completely in their tins before taking them out.