We recently discovered Aldi. Having always lived in central London I’d never been to one before, but we drove past one yesterday and thought we’d pop in. At first, it was much how I imagined it would be – screaming babies and children, out of control toddlers knocking things over, and as it was late afternoon on a weekend the isles were a bit messy and disorganised, with many things out of stock. But as they say: don’t judge a book by its cover! We had to stock up on rice and free-range chicken for the puppies to help settle their tummies, and when I got to the meat isle I was totally amazed. Not even Waitrose or Marks and Spencer has a free-range, organic and top quality meat selection quite like Aldi. I was in meat heaven! All of Aldi’s meat had the trusted red tractor logo on them, and some even had RSPCA-Approved stickers! Even their pork sausages and bacon were from outdoor-bred and free-to-roam piggies – a rarity in this day and age! Needless to say, we stocked up. Big time. I’m a bit of a borderline vegetarian (don’t judge me) in that I rarely eat meat, unless it’s come straight from a farm or a trusted source that guaranteed acceptable animal welfare standards. It can make going out for meals or to friend’s houses for dinner a bit tricky! Not only was their meat (and dairy too – all with the trusted red tractor logo) great quality, it was surprisingly cheap, too. Cheaper than the low-quality and non-organic non-free-range meats from upmarket supermarkets. It’s really well worth going just to stock up on these items and keeping them in the freezer! Trust me.
Anyway, I digress. Whilst we were there we stocked up on everything else too, as we were expecting a few friends over on Sunday to meet the puppies, go for a walk, and share a late lunch and wine. I find puff pastry tarts one of the quickest, easiest and most effective ways to feed people, and they look pretty too! Aldi had a whole bunch of asparagus and a pretty great cheese selection, so it was going to be a cheese and asparagus tart (you can’t really go wrong).
Just cut a roll of puff pastry with a pair of scissors into smaller squares, and pop into the oven for 10 minutes or so on 200C, smother with ricotta, crumbled wensleydale cheese and some lemon juice, and top with asparagus spears and more crumbled wensleydale, then return to the oven for another 10 minutes. Serve with a salad! Full recipe below.
Asparagus and cheese tartlets
You will need:
- 1 roll of puff pastry
- 1 egg
- 1 tub of ricotta cheese
- 1 pack of Wensleydale cheese
- 1 lemon
- 2 small packets of asparagus spears
- mint leaves
1. Pre-heat the oven to 200C. Lay the puff pastry out onto a baking sheet, and snip in half with a pair of scissors, then in half again, etc, as big or small as you’d like to serve them.
2. Beat the egg with a fork, then spread a dollop of the egg onto each puff pastry tartlet. Bake for 10 – 12 minutes until they’re all puffed up and golden (see above first picture). Remove from the oven (but leave the oven on), and leave to cool.
3. Meanwhile, mix the ricotta with half of the crumbled Wensleydale cheese, some chopped fresh mint leaves, and the zest of the lemon, with the juice of half of the lemon, and season with salt and pepper.
4. Flatten the middle of each tartlett, I just used a fork, then spread out the cheesy mixture onto each tart, leaving at least 1cm edge around the outside. Halve the asparagus lengthways so they are very thin and long, then trim the bottom to the right length, leaving the spears on top, and arrange them onto the tartlets, then scatter over the remaining crumbled Wensleydale cheese. Bake for another 12 – 15 minutes until the asparagus are cooked and the pastry nice and crispy!