Pic of Asparagus and smoked cheddar rarebit tart

Asparagus and smoked cheddar rarebit tart

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Vegetarian mains

Asparagus and smoked cheddar rarebit tart

Main Serves 2 40 min
This dish started life as a rarebit dip to serve with spears of roasted asparagus in our restaurant. It quickly found favour piled on toast and grilled as a snack and now comes to you dressed in the finery of buttery puff pastry. Rarebit is commonly made with beer but since we have a cider maker less than a mile from the farm, it seems only proper to adapt. The salad has the whiff of the Waldorf about it, minus the mayo. The crisp apple should echo the cider. How's that for accessorising!? You can use your leftover pastry to make cheese straws by folding and rolling some strong cheddar between the sheets, roughly cutting into strips and baking until golden.


  • 1 large or 2 smaller onions
  • light olive oil
  • 1 pack puff pastry
  • 1 egg
  • 300g asparagus
  • 25g butter
  • 25g flour
  • 100ml cider
  • 50g smoked cheddar
  • 1 tbsp Worcester sauce
  • 2 tsp coarse grain mustard
  • 50g watercress
  • 2 celery sticks
  • 1 apple
  • 40g walnuts
  • 1 lemon
  • salt and pepper
Image of Asparagus and smoked cheddar rarebit tart


Prep time: 10 min
Cooking time: 30 min
  • Step 1

    Preheat oven to 200°C/Gas Mark 6. Peel and finely slice the onion(s). Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a saucepan and gently fry the onion with a pinch of salt for 15 minutes until softened and lightly coloured.
  • Step 2

    Meanwhile, put a saucepan of salted water on to boil. Unroll your pastry and divide it into 4 equal rectangles. Return 2 to the fridge for another day (see cook's notes). Crack the egg into a cup and whisk it well with a fork. Lay the 2 rectangles of pastry on the baking tray.
  • Step 3

    Brush them with beaten egg. Use the tip of a knife to score a 1.5cm border around the edge of each. Place in the oven and bake for 10 minutes until risen and lightly coloured. Keep the remaining egg to one side.
  • Step 4

    Meanwhile, trim away the tough end from the asparagus. You can do this by holding each end of the stalk in your finger tips and gently bending. They snap at the point the stalks become tough.
  • Step 5

    If any of the asparagus tips are thicker than a pencil, slice them in half, lengthways, until they are all roughly the same size. Boil the asparagus for 2-3 minutes until just tender. Remove, toss with a dash of oil to coat and leave to cool.
  • Step 6

    To make the rarebit, melt the butter in a small saucepan. Add the flour and mix together to form a smooth paste. Cook gently on a low heat for 1 minute until it smells faintly buscuity. Add the cider, beating well until it is bubbling and has formed a smooth paste.
  • Step 7

    Grate in the cheese and add the Worcester sauce, mustard and a grind of black pepper. Beat together until melted and smooth. When the pastry has cooked, remove it from the oven. Use the tip of a knife to cut round the border you have marked.
  • Step 8

    Push the centre down to leave a raised edge. Divide the cooked onion between the pastry cases. Sit the asparagus on top of the onions, lengthways in a regimented row. Beat the remaining egg into the rarebit mix and spoon it onto the tarts.
  • Step 9

    Bake in the oven for 15 minutes until both the pastry and rarebit are golden brown. Meanwhile, wash and dry the watercress. Wash and finely dice 2 celery stalks. Wash the apple and cut it into quarter's. Slice out the core and cut it into a dice.
  • Step 10

    Juice the lemon. Mix the watercress, celery, apple and walnuts together. Dress with a squeeze of lemon juice and a little olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and tweak the dressing to your taste. Serve with the warm rarebit tarts.

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