Your guests will think you spent hours on this gorgeous asparagus tart—I won't tell if you don't! The prep time is actually short and sweet, since we skip the fussy and unnecessary steps of rolling out, trimming, and blind-baking the dough. Feel free to adapt this recipe to whatever's in season next: the basic puff pastry + ricotta + vegetable (or fruit!) formula is endlessly riffable. —CB Owens
4 to 6
package frozen puff pastry, defrosted in the fridge for a few hours or overnight (see Note)
large egg, beaten
Zest of 1/2 lemon
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
spears of pencil asparagus, washed, dried, and trimmed
Preheat the oven to 425° F. Unfold the puff pastry into a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet. It should be close to a 10 x 15–inch rectangle once unfurled. Yes, there will still be creases, but just take a deep breath and let it go.
Fold each edge of the pastry inward about 3/4 inch to form a border all the way around. Press ever so gently to seal where the border meets the base, taking care not to mash down too hard or it won't rise properly.
With a pastry brush or clean finger, dab some of the beaten egg along the border you've just made, avoiding the center. In a medium bowl, combine the remaining egg with the ricotta, lemon zest, salt, and pepper. (Go easy on the salt here, as we're going to bust out the good flaky stuff at the end.)
Spread the ricotta mixture evenly over the center of the puff pastry, avoiding the egg-washed borders. Tightly pack the trimmed asparagus spears in a single layer on top of the ricotta.
With that same pastry brush (or finger), dip into some olive oil and lightly coat the asparagus. You won't need more than 1/2 tablespoon or so all together.
Bake until the border has risen and turned golden brown and the asparagus is cooked through, about 17 to 20 minutes. Finish with flaky salt and a few more grinds of black pepper. The tart is great served hot, but even better at room temperature.
Note: Look for a puff pastry brand that uses all butter (rather than shortening and hydrogenated oils), with no funky ingredients. Dufour is a good one that's widely available. Package weight will vary by brand, but anything close to 12 ounces should work fine.