On a recent trip to the Boston area, we stopped at Russo’s in Watertown, a farmstand-turned-HOLY MOTHER OF GOD WHAT DON’T THEY HAVE that I try to make a point of visiting whenever possible. I like that they’ve got a lot of interesting things in non-perishable containers, like vinegars and jellies and groovy crackers. But they also have a huge selection of vegetables, some of which aren’t immediately perishable, and it was there that I first feasted my eyes upon a box of beautiful golden beets.
It makes no sense to me why golden beets are significantly less common than your basic red beet; they pretty much taste the same (they’re actually a little milder) and have almost the same nutritional value, they cook exactly the same, and they don’t stain your hands…and your cutting board…and your countertops. But! Despite the fact that I live in the middle of farm country, belong to a CSA and have been a foodie for a long time, it’s been years for me between golden beet sightings.
I have a hard time believing it’s because they’re reclusive creatures adept at hiding in the wild.
Anyway. So I got my reclusive beets from the One of Everything Store annnnnd…then what? Because they’re kind of special, hard-to-get beets I wanted to make something beautiful, and because my spring CSA is going to start up again fairly soon, I have a gigantic pile of pickled beets looming in my very near future. So. I thought and I thought, and ended up borrowing heavily from one recipe and substituting what I wanted instead of what the recipe called for and in the process, I made an amazing beet galette.
A galette is, basically, a tart with a pastry crust that isn’t molded into a pan. The term is broad and can be interpreted in many ways, from a particular kind of large buckwheat crepe to a fruit-and-pastry dessert to a savory dinner tart. Most of the recipes I found online used a CA-RAZY amount of butter in the crust and frankly, I don’t really like to cook like that if I can avoid it. Or, they would chop the beets into a dice and I wanted to make pretty flat rounds. Then I remembered this recipe and thought…wait a second…why don’t I use this as my template? I’ll make this crust, put in my own fillings?
This? Is what we call a plan, and here’s a reconstruction of the cobbled-together recipe and how I put it all together. So. Onward! But forewarned is forearmed: this is not a dinner that you can just toss together in 20 minutes. Save this for a cold, snug Sunday when you want to be productive but don’t feel like leaving the house.
Bear in mind: you can certainly make this recipe using the readily available red beets, if you can’t find golden like I almost always can’t.
First, make the crust.
Pulse your walnuts in a food processor until they’re ground fine. If you don’t have a food processor, then try a blender, maybe. Or put them in a bag and crush the daylights out of them with the bottom of a heavy frying pan. Or go out to the store and buy a food processor, I’ll wait. Mix the ground walnuts with the flours, salt and pepper, and chopped fresh herbs. Use whatever herbs you prefer; in this batch I used parsley and thyme because I had them handy. If you don’t have fresh herbs you can use dried, but use about half the amount as the recipe calls for because their flavor is concentrated and therefore a little stronger. When your dry ingredients are mixed make a well so you can add the wet ingredients. What does that mean?
It means you dig a hole in your dry ingredients and put your wet ingredients in said hole. It helps you incorporate the ingredients quickly and thoroughly. That’s important for this crust because it’s really hearty and you don’t want to overwork it and develop the glutens; that will just make it tough. Who needs a tough crust? Not this girl.
So knead the dough just until it comes together, then wrap it in plastic and put it in the fridge for at least 15 minutes or until you’re ready to roll it out. Preheat your oven to 425° and get going on your beets and onions. Thinly slice them both, toss with some oil, salt and pepper and put them on baking sheets and into the oven. You’ll get nicely wilted beets and onions that are ready for the next stage of usefulness. Drop the oven temp to 375°.
While these are cooking, toss your goat cheese and feta (if you’re using it) in the freezer (I’ll get to this in a moment, hang on) and chop your garlic. Since you’re not going to cook the garlic any other way than baking it in with the galette, make sure you chop it fairly small or slice it super-thin. I went for super-thin.
But really, it’s whatever you think is easiest, so long as you remember that your objective here is to not bite into a hunk of par-baked garlic, because no.
Now, this thing about the frozen cheese. If you’ve ever tried to cut goat cheese you surely know that it crumbles and sticks to the knife and doesn’t cut evenly and is generally a pain in the ass to manhandle. Much the same can be said for feta. But if you put the cheeses in the freezer for a little while–it doesn’t have to be long, fifteen minutes or so should to the trick–they become easier to cut in even, non-sticky slices. Or grate like Parmesan. So. Before you start slicing and dicing your cheese, take your dough out of the fridge, unwrap it and place it on baker’s parchment or a non-stick baking mat that has been lightly dusted with flour. Roll out the dough into a rustic, 15-inch or so circle, then take the cheese out of the freezer and cut the goat cheese into even, easy-to-disperse slices.
Starting about two inches in from the outer edge, put half the goat cheese on your rolled out dough. Sprinkle on the garlic and grate some feta over it on a nice, fine grater. Like it was Parmesan. (I know I’ve said this before but I do believe it’s the best analogy I can think of.)
Then start layering in the veggies. Put in a layer of beets, then onions, then beets again.
Add the rest of the goat cheese, and another shredding or two of feta if you’d like. Remember, feta is salty, so if you intend to use it in this dish watch your salt content elsewhere and plan accordingly! Carefully fold the edges inward and remember–they won’t reach the middle of the galette. If the crust breaks at all where you fold it, just crimp it back together and move on. It’s supposed to be rustic.
Take hold of the parchment or baking mat and slide it, galette and all, onto a baking sheet. Put it in the oven and let it cook for 50 minutes, and then let it sit for ten. I served it with a gorgeous salad with lemon vinaigrette and some roasted potatoes. And it was as good as I’d hoped.