Recipe: Midsummer Galette
Twice a month, Berkshire native Alana Chernila, mother of two, and author of the cookbook, The Homemade Pantry: 101 Foods You Can Stop Buying & Start Making (Clarkson Potter), contributes a thoughtful and heartfelt essay/recipe created exclusively for Rural Intelligence readers. Her first cookbook has achieved top-seller status, and Chernila has a new one in the works, tentatively titled “Meals from the Homemade Pantry,” due out in 2015. This week, she gives a roadmap to a galette that can be filled with whatever veggies are in the garden.
I love all the twists and turns of summer cooking. Mostly, to be honest, it’s non-cooking. Dinner is piles of produce with dressing on top, vegetables or lazily marinated meat thrown on the grill, or, if it’s cool enough to boil a pot of water in the kitchen, a big tray of corn with only a sidekick of softened butter (who can keep it un-softened on a scorcher like this?) and maybe a little chopped-up mint. My kids open their mouths like little birds and cry, “what’s for dessert?!” and we point towards the raspberry patch and tell them to take the matter into their own hands. It’s too hot to cook, but we can’t very well let all this produce go to waste, so we do as little to it as possible.
But then there are the rare days — the cool days. These might be my favorite days for cooking in the entire year. Then I want to cook, and I have the whole garden (and others’ gardens too) to choose from. These are the days of summer corn chowders and frittatas of sliced pole beans and layers of mandolined zucchini. These are the days of savory galettes.
Even if you were brave enough to turn on your oven on a 90-degree day, you wouldn’t want to make a galette on a day like that. In all that heat, the butter will ooze out of your pie crust in the first few minutes of baking, and you’ll end up with a hard round of cardboard in pool of melted butter. But on a good 72-degree day, your crust will flake and puff, and you can fill the tart with every vegetable in the garden.
To give you a recipe would be counterproductive, as the key to a good summer galette is to use the produce you have. So in the interest of practicality, I’ll give you more of a formula.
You’ll need three main elements:
1. Start with a pie crust. If you have a recipe you love, use it. If you need a new recipe or are open to new things, my recipe is below. You can make two galettes with one pie crust, or you can make one large one or even four minis. You can also use half a batch of dough and make one galette, and save the other half in your freezer for the next time you want to make a galette.
2. You’ll also want lightly roasted or sautéed vegetables. Thin slices are the best. If you can, cook them beforehand so they won’t release water as they bake and make your crust soggy. Roasting is my preferred method here.
3. The last element holds all the extras. Big dollops of goat cheese, slices of parmesan, paper-thin sheets of prosciutto — you get the idea.
To assemble your galette, roll out your pie crust. It doesn’t have to be round. Transfer the crust to a large, lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush the whole crust with a little olive oil, and then arrange your thinly sliced vegetables on the crust, leaving about two inches of empty crust along the perimeter of the circle. Top with your extras, a sprinkle of salt and a handful of fresh herbs. Fold the edge of the crust over the filling, and brush a bit more olive oil on the outside of the crust before sprinkling it with crunchy salt. Bake in a 400°F oven until the crust is golden, 45 to 55 minutes. Carefully transfer to a cooling rack and cool slightly before serving.
Basic Pie Crust
For two 9-inch crusts:
1 cup (2 sticks) cold, unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch squares, plus additional for greasing the dish
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cold water
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1. Combine the butter and flour in the bowl of a stand mixer fit with the paddle attachment, using your hands to coat the butter in flour. Combine the water, apple cider vinegar and salt in a measuring cup, stirring to dissolve the salt.
2. Blend the flour mixture on low speed until it becomes the texture of crumbly meal. With the mixer still running, slowly pour the wet mix into the bowl. The dough will be crumbly at first, then after 10 or 20 seconds, it will come together in a ball. Stop the mixer.
3. Turn the dough out onto the counter and press it together into a large disc. Cut the dough in two equal parts, wrap each piece in plastic or wax paper and press each into a disc. (If you’re planning on making one single large galette, press into one large disc.) Refrigerate for at least one hour, and up to three days.
(A note on the galette in the photo: This gorgeous thing was made by Erin Macdowell, the food stylist who’s been working on the photos for my new book. The veggies in there are sliced scarlet turnips from Indian Line Farm and garlic scapes from my garden, all topped with Monterey Chevre.)