Food, for me, is almost always about people. My friend Emma came for dinner last night, and I love to cook for her. She is vegetarian and also appreciates good food, and it is always a fun challenge to make something new and interesting for her.
Though it is the beginning of the farmer’s markets season here in Seattle and fresh produce abounds, I was stumped about what to cook for Emma. I picked up the first tomatoes of the season from the market and knew I would give them a starring role in this production, but what to do with them? Flipping through my cookbooks, I remembered that my favorite baking cookbook, The Baker’s Dozen, has a few savory recipes in there that I have been wanting to try.
I came across the tomato and cheese galette, with onions and fresh herbs and it sounded like the perfect early summer meal. A galette is a free-form, rustic tart that is great filled with pretty much anything, and they are very popular in France. The dough for this recipe is a basic tart dough (Pâte Brisée), which is very simple to make by hand (or in the food processor!).
The filling layers red onions, two cheeses, fresh herbs and tomatoes, all of which bake up into bubbling goodness in the oven. Because the dough is richer than a pizza dough I recommend serving this alongside green salad with a tangy, acidic vinaigrette. This dish is so crazy good, in fact, that after our first bite Emma and I were actually giggling with elation.
When food is this good, the whole world slows down. I am just fortunate that I have such a lovely, dedicated friend to share it with, and I look forward to many more giggle-worthy meals in our future. Salut mon amie!
Tomato and Cheese Galette
From The Baker’s Dozen
1/2 cup plus 2 tbs freshly grated Parmesan (I used Pecorino Romano)
1/2 cup shredded Gruyere
1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced
1 large tomato, weighing at least 6 oz, or 2 smaller tomatoes
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbs chopped fresh herbs (tarragon, marjoram, thyme, basil, oregano in any combination. I used thyme, rosemary and marjoram)
Position a rack in the bottom third of the oven. If you have one, place a baking stone on the rack and preheat to 400 degrees.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough (recipe below) to a very thin (no more than 1/16 inch) 14-inch circle. Transfer the dough to a large pizza pan or baking sheet and freeze while preparing the filling.
Mix 1/2 cup of the cheeses together. Slice the onion and tomato into very thin rounds. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of cheese mixture over the pastry, leaving 1-1/2 -inch-wide border. Scatter the onion over the cheese, 1 tbs of fresh herbs over the onions, then top with the tomato slices. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the remaining cheese mixture over the top, and drizzle with a teaspoon or two of the olive oil (I used a little truffle oil here). Bring the uncovered border up over the filling, pleating it as needed. Lightly brush the exposed border of pastry with olive oil and sprinkle with remaining 2 tbs of Parmesan.
Remove hot pizza stone from over. Gently move to pizza stone or baking sheet and bake until pastry is golden on top and bottom (lift up the bottom of the tart with spatula to check), and the onions are tender, about 35-40 minutes. If the tart begins to brown too much before the vegetables are tender, lay a square of aluminum foil loosely over it until it’s done. Sprinkle with remaining herbs and serve warm.
From The Baker’s Dozen
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
6 tbs unsalted butter (3/4 stick), chilled and cut into 1/4-inch slices
1/4 cup cold water, or as needed
Combine the flour and salt in a bowl and cut in half the butter with pastry cutter, or simply add to your food processor, until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Cut in the rest of the butter until it is in pea-sized bits.
Sprinkle the water in evenly, adding just enough so that the mixture is completely moistened and holds together when pressed between your fingers. Gather up the dough and press itno a 1-2-inch-thick disk. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap.
Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before use (I like to refrigerate overnight, if possible).