I’ve been reading about those free-form tarts called galettes lately. I went through a galette phase years ago, but hadn’t made one recently. The rustic aspect is appealing, as is the complete freedom to fill them with anything the imagination — and the pantry — can come up with. It’s also one of the few crusts I’ve been able to make that doesn’t end up tasting like cardboard (need to work on that; I clearly did not inherit my mom’s piecrust-making genes).
The crust is from The Collection: Simple & Elegant Recipes, a book I co-edited years ago. The Collection is a compilation of recipes from the Attic Angels, a charitable group in Madison, Wisconsin, and boy, those ladies know how to cook. I’ve used their pastry from the Jalapeño Cheese Strudel recipe (fabulous in its own right), and adapted it to a galette. With both butter and sour cream, it’s rich and soft and (most important, to me anyway) very easy to make.
The filling is comprised of what was in the house: a cup of my latest attempt at homemade ricotta, some sour cream (for the ricotta — tasty but still too dry), one lone zucchini and a few bell peppers. I’ve also made sweet galettes with pears or peaches before; this is one very flexible concept. If you do go the sweet route, sprinkle the crust of the finished galette with a little sugar just before popping it in the oven.
Pepper-Zucchini Galette with Cheese
1 1/2 cups flour
½ tsp. salt
½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
½ cup sour cream
1 small zucchini, sliced
2 bell peppers (I used 1 red and 1 yellow), thinly sliced
½ cup sliced red onion
2 tbs. olive oil, divided
salt and pepper
1 ¼ cups ricotta (or in my case, 1 cup very dry but tasty ricotta
plus ¼ cup sour cream)
2 tbs. chopped fresh herbs, optional
1 cup grated parmesan or fontina
To make the dough, stir the flour and salt until combined. Mash the butter into the flour with your fingers just until there are no more big pieces. Stir in the sour cream just until blended. Form into a disc, wrap well and refrigerate for at least an hour or (if you’re running late, like I was) 20 minutes in the freezer.
Meanwhile, heat the oven to 375°F. Sauté the veg in the oil until they’re tender. I did each veg separately so I could make the galette look pretty, but you don’t have to. Cooking the veggies first helps to remove some of the excess liquid, so you won’t end up with a soggy crust.
Roll out the pastry to about 1/4-inch thick, in a rough rectangle or circle. Transfer the pastry to a parchment-lined cookie sheet. You can sprinkle the parchment with a handful of cornmeal first, to add a little crunch to the bottom.
Spread the ricotta over the dough to within about an inch and a half of the edge. Sprinkle with the herbs, if you’re adding them, and with ¼ cup of the parmesan. Arrange the veg in a pretty pattern if you’re so inclined, or just pile them on if you’re not. Sprinkle the veg with the remaining parm. Fold the edges of the dough toward the center; a good portion of the filling should be still visible. This is not the time for perfection; a galette is supposed to be rustic and freeform.
Bake for about 30 minutes, until the galette is golden. Cut into wedges and serve warm or at room temperature with a green salad for a light meal, or into slivers as a snack or appetizer.