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seasonal recipe

Recipe for asparagus, ham, and ricotta crostata

Asparagus, ham, and ricotta crostataSally Pasley Vargas for The Boston Globe

Makes one 10-inch tart

This buttery free-form crust makes a casual, unfussy tart. Set the rolled dough on a baking sheet and spread it with the hearty ricotta and asparagus filling, leaving a generous edge. Fold the edge over the filling and your work is done. The tart is good warm or at room temperature, and sturdy enough to take on a spring picnic.


cups flour
¼teaspoon salt
6tablespoons (¾ stick) unsalted butter, cut into thin slices
cup ice water
Extra flour (for sprinkling)

1. In a large zipper bag, combine the flour, salt, and butter. Seal the bag and shake to separate the butter pieces and coat them with flour. Place in the freezer for 20 minutes.

2. In a food processor, work the flour-butter mixture with 6 to 8 long pulses, or until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs with a few small pieces of butter.


3. Open the lid and dribble the ice water over the flour. Pulse in a series of short bursts until the mixture looks uniformly beady but does not clump together. Remove a small amount of dough and press it together with two fingers; it should form a clump that holds together firmly without cracking at the edges. If it feels dry, sprinkle with an additional 1 tablespoon of water and pulse briefly to mix it in.

4. Turn the dough onto a counter. Cup your hands around it and press it into a flat disk. Wrap in foil and refrigerate for 15 minutes.

5. On a lightly floured counter, roll the pastry to a 13-inch circle. Lift the pastry onto a rolling pin and lay it on the baking sheet; set aside.


Salt and pepper, to taste
1pound asparagus, tough ends snapped off, stalks cut into 1-inch pieces
1cup whole-milk ricotta
½cup grated Parmesan
1egg plus 1 extra yolk
3tablespoons heavy cream
4scallions, thinly sliced
2tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
6thin slices baked ham
2handfuls baby arugula
6radishes, thinly sliced

1. Set the oven at 375 degrees. Have on hand a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

2. Bring a saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the asparagus and cook for 3 minutes, or until tender. Drain and spread on a plate to cool.


3. In a bowl, stir together the ricotta, Parmesan, egg and yolk, 2 tablespoons of the cream, scallions, parsley, and a generous pinch each of salt and pepper. When well blended, fold in the asparagus.

4. Spread the ham slices over the pastry, leaving a 3-inch border at the edges. Spread the ricotta mixture over the ham. Fold the edges of the pastry up and over the filling. It will pleat onto itself as it rests on the filling. Brush the edges with the remaining 1 tablespoon cream.

5. Bake the crostata for 45 to 50 minutes, turning the sheet from back to front halfway through baking, or until golden brown. Cut into wedges, and top with arugula and radishes. Sally Pasley Vargas

Correction: An earlier version had the incorrect amount of butter. Six tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter is needed.