Sweet and Savory Galettes, Versatile Tops (Get Your Mind, and Your Greens, Out of the Garbage)
Welcome to Issue #22. As things are opening up, life is getting busier. I’m trying to hold onto the space I’ve had over the last year and a half to cook, to reflect, and to keep my focus on the things that really matter. It isn’t easy. But I know it’s important. Spending time in the kitchen helps me keep that space. By sharing what I’m cooking with you, I hope to also share the ability to create and maintain that space in your day-to-day life. —Mitchell
The first time I ever saw a galette—that is, a flat, rustic, free-from tart—was more than 30 years ago on the pages of Jacques Pépin’s The Art of Cooking, one of my favorite cookbooks of all time. The photos accompanying his recipe for Rhubarb Galette (in Volume II) still make my mouth water.
Ever since, I’ve been making sweet galettes out of all kinds of fruit—rhubarb, peaches, apples, figs, berries, and plums. They are easy, pretty, impressive, and delicious—delivering a big culinary ROI.
TECHNIQUE: Fruit Galette
My technique for making fruit galettes doesn’t stray far from Pépin’s original and it is basically the same no matter what fruit I am using. I never use a recipe. I roll out a piece of flaky pie dough into a circle. Doesn’t matter if it’s not perfectly round. I spread the dough with a thin layer of jam, made from either the same fruit I’m going to use for the galette or a complimentary one, leaving a 1” to 1 1/2” border. I sprinkle the jam with almond flour and a little all-purpose to absorb any fruit juices. I arrange the fruit in an attractive pattern and I dust it all with sugar. (If you want to add other flavoring, such as vanilla, cinnamon, or citrus zest, it is best to toss it with the fruit before arranging it so the flavoring is evenly distributed.) You can dot the top with a little butter, if you like. Then I fold up the sides, brush the rim with egg wash, sprinkle with turbinado or sanding sugar, and bake in a 425°F. oven until it puffs and begins to brown, about 25 minutes. Then I lower the oven to 375°F. and keep baking until it is cooked through. I like my galettes (and most of my pastry) very well baked, à la Pépin.
But the other day I had a surfeit of cooked greens that I needed to do something with, a few random bits of cheese in the fridge, and a hunk of my flaky pie dough in the freezer, so I set about to make a savory galette for a change.
How I came to have the greens to use up is a funny story. Last Wednesday I was shopping at the Bodhitree Farm stand in the Union Square Greenmarket. The woman in front of me at the checkout was buying two, beautiful, large Korean mu radishes (similar to Japanese daikon only a little squatter and a little more pungent), and she asked them to remove the large crown of leaves sprouting from their tops. The attendant asked the customer if she was sure she didn’t want the greens, and once confirmed, she lopped them off. I thought aloud to myself that daikon leaves were delicious, which was something I had learned only last year at the greenmarket, when upon purchasing a beautiful daikon from Willow Wisp Organic Farm stand the attendant there assured me the leaves were edible and delicious (which they were). Back at Bodhitree, the attendant, who heard my comment under my breath, asked if I wanted the radish tops. I hesitated a moment, but said, “Sure, why not.” So, she handed me a giant bouquet of someone else’s discarded greens. I was already buying beets and turnips, the tops of which I was planning to use somehow. Now I had a bouquet of root vegetable tops.
But what to do with them? First, I cleaned all the leaves and stems, soaking them in a couple of changes of water and lifting them out to remove any dirt. I decided to keep them separate in case they required different cooking times and to prevent the beet greens from staining the others. I spun them dry and roughly chopped them. I blanched each in salted boiling water until they softened, shocked them in ice water, drained them, pressed them in a sieve to expel as much water as possible, chopped them finely, and put them in bags in the fridge, still not aware of their destiny. (I also saved the blanching water, which I always do, to use as vegetable broth.)
During subsequent days a few spoonfuls of the cooked greens found their way into bowls of Chinese noodles I made for lunch and eggs I scrambled for breakfast. But I still had piles to consume. That’s when the thought of a galette of greens dawned on me. I had in my mind an image of a cross between a Greek spinach pie, seasoned with dill and Feta, and a French tarte de blettes (Proveçal Swiss chard tart), like the one we included in the electronic cookbook I co-wrote with Laurent Gras, My Provence. I was very happy with the result, which I’m sharing with you today.
RECIPE: Savory Galette of Greens
2 large eggs, plus additional for egg wash
3 tablespoons heavy or sour cream, or full-fat Greek yogurt
2 cups cooked greens, such as radish, turnip and/or beet tops, swiss chard, spinach, kale, or whatever you have, very well drained of any excess liquid and finely chopped
¼ cup shredded sharp, firm cheese, such as aged Manchego, Gruyère, cheddar, Comté, whatever you’ve got
2 tablespoons shredded Parmigiano Reggiano
2 ounces crumbled Feta
3 or 4 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs, such as dill, parsley, chervil, chives
1 or 2 scallions, chopped (optional)
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Generous pinch salt
Freshly grated black pepper
2 tablespoons almond flour or bread crumbs
1 tablespoon all-purpose or whole wheat flour (omit if using bread crumbs)
½ recipe flaky pie dough
Sesame seeds, white or black, poppy seeds, or additional Parmigiano, as a garnish for the rim (optional)
In a medium bowl, beat the eggs with the cream until blended. Add the chopped greens, scallions, if using, cheeses, herbs, nutmeg, salt, and pepper and mix well to combine.
Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment.
Shape the dough into a round dish and roll out to a circle about 13 or 14 inches in diameter about 1/8 inch thick. If the edge of the dough is ragged, I like to the smooth it out by pressing lightly with my finger tips to make a clean rim. Using the rolling pin for support, transfer the dough to the parchment-lined sheet pan. Sprinkle the surface of dough evenly with the ground almond or breadcrumbs, leaving a clean border of about 1 ½ inches around the perimeter. Do the same with the flour (if not using bread crumbs).
Give the filling another mix and then spoon it out evenly over the dough, spreading it to an even thickness and leaving the same 1 1/2” border of dough around the perimeter free. Make sure the crumbled feta is evenly distributed. If there’s any excess liquid in the bowl, pour it onto the center of the greens. Carefully lift and fold up the edges of the dough around the circumference of the galette, pleating it in segments so that you contain the filling and keep the round shape. Be gentle as you don’t want to tear the dough and risk the filling running out. If you have time, refrigerate the galette for 20 or 30 minutes.
Beat the extra egg with a tablespoon of water and a pinch of salt to make an egg wash. Brush the rim of the galette with the egg wash and sprinkle with the seeds or additional Parmigiano, if using. Bake in the preheated oven for about 25 minutes, until puffed and beginning to brown. Lower the oven temperature to 375°F., and continue baking another 15 to 20 minutes or so, until the crust is a deep golden brown and crisp. I like my galettes very well baked, but if your preference is for a lighter pastry, pull it out when you think it’s done. Serve warm or at room temperature.
And in case you still aren’t inspired to give it a try, here’s a shot of another Savory Galette of Greens I made just yesterday.