Poached Salmon & Asparagus Tart

I adore tarts: served warm with a good salad, perhaps with some cheese, a few pickles and some good bread they make for a satisfyingly light meal.

As salmon and asparagus are such great partners they make a truly wonderful tart. I very lightly poach the salmon and steam the asparagus and set these in a light egg mixture flavoured with Dijon mustard and the milk that the salmon was poached in. The tart then bakes at a low temperature to just set the eggs. This recipe is very much inspired by my gran who introduced me to my first asparagus and non-tinned salmon!

Asparagus is, for me, one of the most exciting things to look forward to picking each year (second only to strawberries!) and I have been very fortunate to have had several pickings already from this season’s asparagus: a tart such as this more than fits the bill but just having the asparagus steamed, seasoned and served on a salad with shards of crispy bacon and topped with a poached egg is hard to beat!

In this tart the asparagus just retains some bite and the salmon is beautifully soft: barely cooking the salmon before it gets put into the tarts ensures it does not over-cook in the oven.

Poached Salmon & Asparagus Tart (serves 4-6)

  • 300g shortcrust pastry (made with 200g plain flour, 50g lard, 50g butter, a large pinch of salt and cold water to mix).
  • a bunch of asparagus
  • 200g fresh salmon
  • 250ml full-fat milk
  • 3 egg yolks plus one whole egg
  • 1 heaped teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • finely grated zest of 1/2 lemon
  • a few crushed peppercorns
  • generous pinch of sea salt
  • a little dill, chopped roughly
  • 2 bay leaves
  • additional salt & pepper

You will also need a flan tin, lightly greased: I used a rectangular tin, 36cm by 12cm.

  1. Make the shortcrust pastry, wrap in clingfilm and chill for at least 30 minutes. Roll out thinly and line a flan tin of your choice, having the pastry slightly over-lapping the edges. Preheat the oven to 170C (fan).
  2. Chill the pastry-lined tin for about 30 minutes and line with greaseproof or foil. Pour some baking beans or rice and bake for about 15 minutes. Remove the greaseproof or foil and bake for a further 5 minutes or so, until the pastry is dry with no wet patches left. After baking the pastry case blind, reduce the oven temperature to 150C.
  3. For the salmon: put the milk, crushed peppercorns, salt, bay leaves and the dill into a small pan and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and add the salmon, cut into manageable fillets (the skin can be left on at this stage). Put a lid on and leave, still off the heat, for 15 minutes – the salmon won’t cook fully but will finish cooking in the oven.
  4. For the asparagus: trim the stalks, season with salt and steam for about 5 minutes until tender.
  5. Remove the salmon from the milk and peel off the skin. Flake the salmon gently. Strain the milk into a bowl. Leave to cool.
  6. Whisk the egg yolks, the whole egg, lemon zest, mustard and seasoning together. Whisk in the milk. Stir a few tablespoons of this through the salmon.
  7. Trim the asparagus to the same size so that they fit in the tin. Roughly chop the trimmings and scatter them over the pastry base.
  8. Place the flaked salmon over the base and carefully pour over the egg mixture until it comes to just below the top of the pastry case.
  9. Lay the asparagus over the top and grind some pepper over the tart. Bake for 20-25 minutes until just set (there should still be a hint of a wobble!). Leave to cool in the tin. NB: different sized tins will need different timings for cooking, but judge it by the slight wobble.
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