These asparagus and vegan cheese mini tarts are great to have either for lunch or as an evening meal. With a delicious shortcrust pastry base and cheese sauce filling, you can enjoy these both hot and cold. They will also keep for several days in the fridge, so you can make them in advance to enjoy later.
This is my standard savoury shortcrust pastry recipe that I use in my Vegan Quiche Lorraine. The same batch I use for the quiche will make about 8-10 mini tarts. The mini tart tins themselves I got from Morrison’s. They’re usually sold in packs of two, so it’s ideal to have 4-5 packs for this recipe (or you can, of course, make them in 2 separate batches). You can also get them from Amazon. You can enjoy these tarts on their own, or serve them with either a light salad or fries.
Prep time: 20 minutes. Cooking time: about 40 minutes.
Makes 8-10 mini tarts.
For the Pastry:
300g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp gram flour
150g vegan butter, diced, plus extra for greasing
100ml plant-based milk
For the Filling:
2-3 tbsp olive oil
1 medium red onion
300g fresh asparagus
For the Cheese Sauce:
50g vegan butter
2 tbsp plain flour
450ml vegan milk
3 tbsp nutritional yeast
100g vegan feta
1 tsp wholegrain mustard
A good pinch of salt
A dash of vegan cream
About 50g vegan parmesan cheese
First you want to make your pastry. Place the flour into a mixing bowl and add the baking powder, salt and gram flour. Put the diced vegan butter in with the flour, then use your fingers to work the flour mix and butter into fine bread crumbs. This will take about 5 minutes. Once this is done, pour in the milk and mix together using an ordinary table knife. When it has formed large lumps it is ready to bring together. Use your hands to work the dough together into a large ball and then bring it out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead gently for just a minute or so to make sure it is fully combined. When this is done, place into a container with a lid and chill for 1 hour.
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While the dough is chilling you can make the filling. Peel and thinly slice the red onion, then cut the woody base off the asparagus and discard. Cut the remaining asparagus in half down their length and then cut again in half widthways (see video).
Heat half of the olive oil in a frying pan and fry the sliced onions for about 5-7 minutes, until they are soft and slightly browned. Remove and set aside. Now heat the remaining olive oil and cook the asparagus for about the same amount of time, until just slightly browned on the edges (try not to overcook them as they’ll be cooking for longer in the oven). Set the asparagus aside until they are needed.
To make the cheese sauce, melt the vegan butter in a pan and then stir in the flour until you get a thick paste. Now add the vegan milk, a little at a time, whisking as you go until you get a thick and smooth sauce. Now add the nutritional yeast, vegan feta, mustard and salt and whisk in. Allow the sauce to come to the boil and the cheese to melt, then stir in the dash of vegan cream. Cook for a minute or two more, then take off the heat and allow to cool.
Roll the pastry out onto a floured surface, until it’s about 4mm thick. Using your mini tart tins as a guide, cut a circle out of the pastry a little larger than the tin, so that you have enough to go up the sides. Do this for all of your tins, rolling out the pastry as many times as you need to.
Using the leftover butter, grease each of your mini tart tins all around the inside and then line each tin with the pastry circles. Press the pastry around the sides of each tin, so that it comes up over the edges, then trim off any excess with a sharp knife. Now prick the bottom of each pastry case with a fork.
Preheat the oven to Gas 5/190C/375F.
Spoon the cheese sauce into the pastry cases, stopping a little short of the top, then top with a little of the red onions and the asparagus. Finally grate the vegan parmesan cheese over the top of each tart. Put the tarts on a large baking sheet and cook in the middle of the oven for about 30-35 minutes, until the tarts are golden brown and cooked. Do this in two batches of you need to. If you are cooking two trays in the oven at the same time, remember to swap them over in the oven so that they cook evenly. Allow to cool for a few minutes before serving, or you can serve them at room temperature or refrigerate for another day.