Photograph by Lauren Bamford
Any sort of savoury tart can be made with this recipe," says Davies, "but if you’re lucky enough to have some peppery wild asparagus and herbs, this is possibly one of the nicest ways to use them." You can use any herbs here – Tuscan favourites include wild fennel, calamint and wild garlic. Short on time? Use shop-bought pastry.
For the shortcrust pastry
- 70g chilled butter, chopped
- 250g plain flour
- ¼ tsp salt
- 80ml chilled milk (or water)
For the filling
- 1 handful wild herbs (see variations)
- 350g wild asparagus
- 1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
- 3-4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 60ml dry white wine (or water)
- 6 eggs
- 30g finely grated parmesan or pecorino cheese
- To make the pastry, rub the chopped cold butter into the flour until there are no more large pieces of butter left.
- Add the salt and the milk (or water) a bit at a time until the dough just comes together, or use a food processor. Don't overwork it – stop as soon as it looks smooth. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
- On a work surface dusted with flour, roll the pastry out to 3-4mm thickness. Carefully transfer it to a pie dish approximately 24-26cm in diameter, and gently press it down into the grooves of the dish, trim, and prick the base all over with a fork. If making this ahead of time, you can keep the raw pastry crust in the fridge wrapped in plastic wrap, or keep in the freezer.
- Blind bake the pastry crust (this goes for store-bought pastry too) 180°C by setting baking paper over the top of the crust and filling the entire pastry case with baking beads.
- Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until the edges of the pastry begin to turn golden. Remove from the oven and remove the baking beads and baking paper.
- Return the crust back to the oven to ‘dry’ out the base for no more than 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.
- Meanwhile, wash the herbs and asparagus, cutting off any tough parts of the stalk and chopping roughly.
- Cook the onion over a low heat with half the olive oil and a pinch of salt for 5-10 minutes, so the onions sweat and soften without browning.
- Add the asparagus and the wine, and season. Cook, stirring, over low-medium heat for approximately 7-10 minutes, or until tender. Set aside.
- Beat and season the eggs. Add the cooled asparagus, along with the chopped herbs and cheese, to the eggs.
- Pour the mixture over the pastry and bake in the oven for approximately 20-25 minutes, until the top is puffed and golden.
Acquacotta: Recipes and stories from Tuscany's secret silver coast by Emiko Davies (Hardie Grant, £25.00). Photography by Lauren Bamford