When asparagus is in season, there is nothing better than the spears lightly steamed and dunked into a hollandaise bath. For a more substantial lunch, this combination of sweet crab, asparagus and eggy custard is sheer heaven.
For the shortcrust pastry (or use 450g store-bought shortcrust pastry)
250g plain flour
¼ tsp salt
125g unsalted butter, cold, cut into 1cm cubes
1 tbsp oil
For the filling
400g asparagus, woody ends removed, cut into 3cm lengths
3 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, finely diced
1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped
2 tbsp chervil, roughly chopped
350ml double cream
3 large eggs
1 tsp salt
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
20g parmesan cheese, finely grated
pinch of cayenne pepper
1. For the pastry, sift flour and salt together in a bowl, then rub in butter until mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Whisk egg and oil together in a separate bowl, then add to flour mixture and mix quickly until a soft dough forms. Add a drop or two of ice-cold water to bind if necessary. Wrap loosely in cling film, then press gently to flatten into a disc. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or up to 3 days.
2. When ready to line a 25cm tart case, remove pastry from fridge and allow to sit for 10 minutes before rolling out on a floured workbench to about 5mm thick. Gently roll up pastry over the rolling pin, transfer to the quiche tin and unfold. Press pastry against the fluted edges of the pan and trim the excess with a small sharp knife. Save the trimmings to patch up any cracks in the baked tart shell. Cover pastry lightly with cling film and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or up to 1 day.
3. Preheat oven to 210C (190C fan-forced) and place an oven tray on middle rack. Remove the pastry case from the fridge and line with two pieces of baking paper, then fill with dried beans or rice. Place on the hot oven tray and bake for 30 minutes, then lift out the baking paper and the beans. Return the pastry to the oven for another 10 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and if there are any cracks, patch while still warm with the reserved raw pastry.
4. For the filling, toss asparagus with 1 tbsp olive oil, season with salt and pepper, then place onto an oven tray and roast (at same oven temperature) for 5 to 7 minutes until slightly softened. Meanwhile, sweat onion in a pan over medium heat in remaining 2 tbsp of oil until soft and translucent, then stir in garlic and cook for 1 minute. Transfer in to a medium bowl and add roasted asparagus, crabmeat and chervil. Cool for a few minutes before distributing over pastry shell.
5. Reduce oven temperature to 190C (170C fan-forced). Make a custard by whisking together the cream, eggs, salt and pepper until blended, then pour this over the crab and asparagus filling. Sprinkle with parmesan, then cayenne pepper, and place quiche on an oven tray and bake for 35-40 minutes until top is golden brown and a small knife blade inserted into the centre comes out clean – it should still be slightly wobbly in the centre. Allow to cool for 30 minutes before unmoulding, then serve at room temperature.