I’m not sure how it is in other cultures, or even other parts of this country, but one of my favorite traditions from the deep south is the showering of food upon friends and family that have recently had a birth, or a death.
I’m not an emotional eater, but I do believe in the power of a good meal at the right time. It’s usually the simple but lovingly crafted fare that makes the biggest impact: the warm bowl of pasta and red sauce after a stressful day, the oatmeal chocolate chip cookie that symbolizes nostalgia, or the simple soup and bread broken with friends who labor together over life’s seemingly infinite struggles. Mix a home cooked meal of any caliber with the joyful celebration of birth, or with the tearful goodbye of death, and the result is so much more than calories consumed or a friendly gesture. It says here, have something that nourishes your body and your soul, while I stand by and rejoice with you or mourn with you and celebrate that life continues, even in these moments, but for now let’s share a meal together. It’s intimacy and love and even the most costly gift these days: time.
One of the easiest ways for me to be a friend is to volunteer to bring the food. I’m not a great orator, I don’t like selling things or asking people for money, and please don’t ask me to run a 5k for whatever cause. But I can take care of the food. It’s my strength to plan, organize, shop, chop and cook. It’s also the best way I recharge: alone in the kitchen, Me and The Food, together forever.
I had the opportunity to make this galette for a friend who recently had a baby, and another one for an Easter holiday dinner with my family. It’s from Deb‘s cookbook, and I followed the recipe mostly, except I added roasted sweet potatoes and carrots to the butternut squash for the filling, which was not only an aesthetically pleasing change but also a delicious one. If you’re out of the rustic pie loop, (why anybody would be in that loop other than me, I’m not sure) but that’s what a galette is: a ‘rustic’, free-formed shaped pie that can be savory or sweet, molded by your hands without the help of a pie plate. It’s forgiving in its presentation and it feels humble, but so delicious, not fussy or fancy like a tart. It also freezes beautifully, and can be baked from frozen with just a few additional minutes, if you want to have a crowd-pleaser made ahead of time.
Galette with Roasted Vegetables
Serves 8-10 with a hearty side salad
1 crust recipe: you can use this one, or see below for the one I used
For the Filling:
About 2.5 pounds squash and/or root vegetables, washed and chopped to about 1/2 inch pieces: I used a combination of butternut squash, sweet potatoes and carrots
1 tsp dried thyme, or 2 tsp fresh thyme
6 ounces sharp white cheddar cheese (or something similar), freshly grated
pinch of cayenne pepper
2 yellow sweet onions, halved and sliced thinly into half-moons
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 tablespoon each butter and olive oil, for the onions
Olive oil for the roasted vegetables
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper, again for the roasted vegetables
Egg wash: 1 tsp water whisked with 1 large egg yolk, set aside
For the Crust:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 sticks butter, diced
1/2 cup full-fat greek yogurt
1 tbsp white vinegar
1/3 cup ice water
In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the flour and salt. Add the paddle attachment and add the butter cubes, mixing on low until incorporated. In a small, separate bowl, whisk together the yogurt, water and vinegar. Add this mixture to the flour and butter, mixing on low until a dough forms. Once a dough is formed, knead for a couple of turns with your hands. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate, for at least 2 hours or up to 2 weeks. Remove from the fridge about minutes before you need to use it.
The Onions: heat the olive oil and butter in a heavy bottomed pan (I used an iron skillet) and add the onions along with the teaspoon of salt and sugar. Cook for 20-30 minutes, or until the onions have caramelized and are well-browned throughout, stirring only occasionally. Set aside once they are done
The Vegetables: while the onions are cooking, roast the vegetables. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. On a large cookie sheet, toss the vegetables with olive oil, salt and fresh ground pepper, just enough for a light coating. Roast until all vegetables are tender and some are browned on the edges, about 30 minutes (but it can take longer). Set aside to cool and leave the oven on. Once cooled, in a large bowl mix the onions, vegetables, cheese and spices together, set aside.
Assemble: Line a baking sheet with parchment and set aside. On a floured work surface, roll out the dough into a 16-17 inch disk. Don’t worry about getting a perfect circle, we’re going for rustic. Place the dough on the parchment lined sheet. Spoon the vegetable mixture onto the dough, forming a small mound, leaving a couple of inches of dough all the way around. Fold the edges of the dough onto the vegetables, all the way around (see the first picture). Brush the crust with the egg mixture (self tanner!) and bake for about 30-40 minutes, until the crust is well-browned. Let cool slightly cut into wedges. Serve warm with a hearty salad.
To Freeze: follow every step as above, except don’t do the egg wash. Wrap the assembled galette in a couple of layers of plastic wrap (I find it helpful to place the galette on a piece of plastic, then go from there) and then 1 layer of foil. Bake within the month. When ready to bake, remove from freezer and bake from frozen, first applying the egg wash. You’ll only need to add a few minutes to the baking time.
Notes on the crust: I like this recipe better for this particular galette, it’s more flexible and tender and goes well with the filling. I’ve made it with the plain all butter crust before, but this recipe is better for this particular pie.