Roasted Beet Galette

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.

Oh hell yes.

Oh hell yes.

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?

What's that, Lassie?  Billy fell in the well?

What’s that, Lassie? Billy fell in the well?

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°.

All hail the discs f golden deliciousness!

All hail the discs of golden deliciousness!

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.

See?  Thin.

See? 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.

Goat cheese is so much easier to manage this way.

Goat cheese is so much easier to manage this way.

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.)

See, it's all about building a solid base.

See, it’s all about building a solid base.

Then start layering in the veggies.  Put in a layer of beets, then onions, then beets again.

I don't know if I want to eat this or put it in a vase.Who am I kidding?  I want to eat this.

I don’t know if I want to eat this or put it in a vase.
Who am I kidding? I want to eat this.

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.

It's not "perfect" by any stretch of the imagination.  And that's just fine.

It’s not “perfect” by any stretch of the imagination. And that’s just fine.

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.

Voila!  Dinner, is served.

Voila! Dinner, it is served.

Nosh: Sweet Potato, Red Onion and Fontina Tart

I was going to start this blog with the sentence, “I love a meal that is complete with perhaps the addition of a salad.”  But who am I kidding?  That’s maybe the fussiest thing I’ve ever said about food.  Ever.  I love a meal and it can be any kind, though I do seem to have a particular adoration for tarts.  What’s not to love?  The word is derived from a word that means cake, and yet they look sort of like pie, and you can pretty much put anything you want in them.  You want sweet?  OK.  Savory?  Fine!  Summery?  Done.  Hearty?  You got it!  And if there is one thing I unequivocally love without guilt or repentance, it’s a dish that is inherently mixy-matchy.

Today I bring you something hearty.  Sure, this is probably more seasonally appropriate in the winter and right now everyone’s looking to asparagus and okra, but you know what?  The fresh herb crust kicks ass, and delicious is delicious at any time of year.  With that in mind, I now present the sweet potato, red onion and fontina tart.  Complete with occasionally manoodled pictures.  🙂  Because I can’t help myself, that’s why.

First, make your crust, the preparatory phases for which (for some godforsaken reason) I don’t have any pictures.  Go figure.  Get it mixed and shaped into a disc and in the fridge, so it can chill while you prep your sweet potatoes.  For said potatoes: nothing fancy, folks.  Just peel them, slice them about a quarter-inch thick and toss them with oil, salt and pepper.  Be careful not to slice them too thick because they won’t cook properly and frankly, there is little that causes me more disappointment than an undercooked sweet potato.  It holds so much promise of deliciousness, but never delivers.  Don’t give me a sad.  Cook your potatoes.

Oil/salt/pepper, ready to roast.

And so, put them in a 425° oven for ten minutes, then take them out and set them aside (and drop the oven temp to 375°).  They can cool, that’s fine.  You need to get your dough and cheese ready.

Mmmmm, cheese.  Earthy, melty, nutty fontina cheese.  Did I digress?  Yes?  Too bad.

Lay out a piece of parchment and roll out your dough.  I do recommend putting it on parchment and not just rolling it onto a floured tabletop, because then it becomes just so easy to pick up the whole thing and slide it onto your baking tray.  So.  Roll it out, roughly into a 15″ circle.

So it looks more square than round. So what?

Consider this to be a piece of evidence, as though you were in court.  When looking at exhibit A, bear this is mind.  It is indeed kind of squareish, not round, and can hardly be called “beautiful”.  This is OK, because you’ll fold it all over and nobody will ever care.  Exhibit A is also way more flecked than you might imagine considering the amount of herbs the recipe calls for.  That is because I probably used twice as much fresh herbery.  Further, it specifically says to use rosemary and/or thyme, both of which are delicious for sure, but I’ve also used parsley and oregano.  Do you have an herb garden?  What’s growing there?  Use that.  (Though I would probably stay away from both basil and cilantro, simply because they’re so delicate I don’t know that their flavor would withstand the cooking time.  And mint in this would just be weird…but maybe…I might think about mint with this and a little ricotta and spinach and lemon.  See?  Tarts.  They make me get all tangent-like.)  Exhibit A demonstrates to the jury that tarts can be easier than one might think.

Next, CHEESE!  Share the goodness that is fontina!

The thing is, you don’t get too crazy with said cheese. You put on just enough to create a tasty, somewhat gooey, super-nommy bed.

And then start in with your veggies.  Leave some room so you can fold over the edges when you’re done (but they won’t fold all the way into the middle, so don’t plan for that) and lay down your first ring of sweet potatoes.

See? Leave a good inch, inch and a half of dough around the edges.

Next, put down your layer of red onions, which are cut to roughly the same thickness as the sweet potatoes.  You won’t traumatize me nearly as much if you cut these thicker than the potatoes and they don’t cook as thoroughly, but 1) things cook together better when they’re roughly the same size and 2) why wouldn’t you want the onions to get as caramelized and sweet as possible?  You’re not thinking straight.  Do you feel quite well?

Layer of onions, with a distorted focus. Because it is that dreamy.

Then put on your next layer of taters, and keep going until you get to the middle.  You can have fun with it, build it into a rosette.  Because it just looks frigging nice, mmmmkay?  Though I may have gone a little over the top making this picture look like an old-timey photo, but you know what?

It makes me happy. I don’t apologize.

Top it with the rest of the cheese and some fresh chives, and then carefully-but-don’t-sweat-it, fold over the edges of the crust.  Like I said, you won’t come anywhere near the middle.  Don’t worry.  Just anticipate.

This is sooooo ready for baking.

Bake it for fifty minutes and let it cool for ten.  At the end of it, you’ve got a fantastic, hearty, healthy vegetarian entree.  Which really is perfect with a salad, and I don’t care if that sounds fussy or not.

And now we see not what we’ve already had, but what can still be ours. Mmmmm.

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