Crab and asparagus filo tarts

There’s an argument that you shouldn’t mess around with asparagus, nor should you dilute the joy of it too much by using it simply as just another ingredient in a bigger dish. There’s some validity to this.

That said, if matched with the right things, you can rustle up some pretty awesome treats – and also make a bunch of asparagus go quite far.

Asparagus is cracking with egg, dairy, and sea food. So it’s no surprise that these little crab and asparagus filo tartlets are a winner. The filo pastry (smothered with melted butter) makes a superb, easy to assemble, crisp, shell. Brown crab meat and asparagus provide two contrasting but well matched flavours for the filling. Save some fresh white crab meat for topping the tartlets just before you eat them. Good canapé. Great snack. Superb posh packed lunch.

I wrote this as part of my latest piece for Borough Market. There’s loads of good content on their site. Click here for more. Read on for the recipe.

Crab and asparagus filo tartlets

Makes 12 little tarts

1 pack all butter filo sheets (6 sheets / c.270g)
80g butter (melted)
200g bunch asparagus
1 dressed crab/pre picked meat approx (100g brown meat, any amount of white is a bonus)
80g crème fraiche
¼ lemon
1 egg
1 egg yolk
Salt and pepper
One cupcake tray

Preheat your oven to 190C. Break the woody ends of the asparagus. Cut into 1cm discs, but leave the tips a bit longer. Cut thicker tips in half to ensure you have 12 tips – one for each tartlet. Bring a saucepan of salted water to the boil as you make the filo pastry tart cases.

Unravel one sheet of filo from the roll. Keep the roll covered with a clean tea towl. Place the sheet on a work surface and cut in half lengthways, then each half into four quarters, so that you have eight squares in total.

Brush melted butter over one square. Place a square on top, but this time as a diamond – so that you now effectively have a star. Repeat with two more sheets, each time ensuring that the corners are in a new spot. You don’t need to be too neat, but do be liberal with the butter.

Pop the pastry star in the indent of a cupcake tray mould. Push the pastry to the sides of the mould and scrunch up the edges to add height. Repeat for all six slices of filo in the pack. Put in the oven for 9 minutes, so that the edges turn golden brown. Turn the tray once to ensure even cooking.

Whilst the tart shells are baking, cook the asparagus for 1 minute. Drain. Separate the tips and put to one side.

After 9 minutes, bring the tart shells out and put a teaspoon of asparagus in each shell – pushing the semi cooked (and still soft) shells to the edges of their moulds. Turn the oven down to 150C.

Mix together the crème fraiche, 100g brown crab meat (a little white meat to top up what you have is fine), egg, and egg yolk. Spoon over the asparagus – 1-2 large spoonfuls should be enough to fill the tart shells.

Place the spears in the tarts and put the tray back in the oven for 14 minutes. The fillings should have turned a crabby orange and be just set. Allow to cool in the tray for ten minutes before lifting out.

Eat whilst warm, topped with a pinch of white crab meat. Or, if you think you can wait, allow them to cool completely to enjoy later on. Only add the white meat at the last minute as it will dry out once uncovered.

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