When I went to Italy, I knew that the food was going to be out of this world. That's part of the reason I chose to study abroad there. I've always loved Italian food; my dad has cooked with that flair ever since I can remember. So I knew I'd love it, and I knew I'd love the authenticity of it. But what I didn't expect was the simplicity of it all.
Most of the food, unless visiting a high-end ristorante, was just good. It was everything you'd think it to be- simple ingredients, no super complicated methods, no intentional confusion for the sake of impressing you. Just simple, well-cooked, well-cared-for food. Very straightforward. Very honest. Very unassuming. But where the Italians take pride is the quality of their ingredients. They only use what's in season, forming creative menus from the produce they can buy from the grocer across the street. Constantly you're wowed by freshly-made bread, juicy wine, and homemade cheese. Everything they do is homemade, except the pre-toasted bread slices that you can buy from any market, which I never could fully get into. But the noodles, the sauces, the meats, the olive oil… Oh, the olive oil. Nothing like it. I'm really having a hard time describing this to you. I think you probably should just go.
But all this to say, this galette was inspired by the Italian way. I was at work the other day when a customer gave us a palette of tomatoes at peak ripeness. We got to take some home, and I put mine in the refrigerator for a couple of days until I could figure out what to create with them. And for some reason, I just love galettes. They're like pies, but much easier, and part of me hates to fiddle with the trickiness of a pie. And they're fun, because most of the time when you tell people that you've made a galette, the response is, "A what?" And then you get to share something new.
A couple of weeks ago I made a cherry chocolate galette, but this time I chose to take the savory route. So I did what I know best, after doing some research. It was a rainy morning when I sliced the tomatoes and roasted them in the oven for a long two hours. I cut butter and cold olive oil into flour to mix a savory pie crust. I chopped basil into ribbons. I mashed garlic and cracked salt and pepper and heavily drizzled olive oil. And it all came together beautifully.
It's mid-August. It's the perfect time to use these flavors. The tomatoes are as ripe and red as can be and the basil is sweet and minty. Everything is in abundance and vegetables are basically begging us be create something new with them. So go on an adventure and rejoice at the bounty you get to eat. If you're tempted to be intimidated by a galette, don't succumb to it. When you're in the kitchen, everything is in your control, even if it all goes awry sometimes. Take your time, prep your ingredients, and be bold. Not everything is black and white.
And maybe turn on some Italian music and pretend that your window leads to a stone side street, from which you can hear the hustle and bustle and exclamations of small-town Italian folk, just emerging from their long afternoon nap. Imagine that the smells coming from your oven are wafting out into the street, mixing with the sweet cinnamon aromas from your neighbor and the scent of freshly-cut and boiled pasta from a local trattoria. You are one of many beautiful people, contributing to the creativity of your culture, embracing the things you know and the things you don't. Your face has wrinkles from smiles and laughter and your tongue is sharp like a knife when you taste red wine. You pass on beauty, you get to be the giver. You get to craft and laugh and pour and chop and hand down- more than just food.
And you do.
Roasted Tomato, Basil, and Goat Cheese Galette
Crust has been slightly adapted from FoodLovesWriting
For the galette:
- 5 roasted tomatoes, recipe below
- one whole wheat crust, recipe below
- 8 large basil leaves
- 1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese
- 3 cloves of garlic
- olive oil
- salt and pepper, to taste
For the roasted tomatoes:
- 5 medium-sized tomatoes, sliced into about 1/4" thick rounds
- olive oil
- salt and pepper, to taste
For the crust:
- 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup olive oil, refrigerated until mostly firm
- 1/4 cup butter (half a stick), cubed
- 1 Tbs yogurt
- 1/4 cup cold water
First things first, roast your tomatoes. Preheat your oven to 250 degrees. Slice the tomatoes into 1/4" thick slices, as said above. Place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper, all to taste. Roast the tomatoes for about 2 hours.
During this time, make the galette crust. Whisk together both flours and salt in a medium bowl. Add olive oil and butter and mix with a pastry cutter (or two knives) or in a food processor. I used two knives, but about 2 minutes in I got fed up and used my fingers, and all was well. Add your yogurt and cold water and mix until the dough comes together. Then, on a lightly floured counterop, roll it out into a large circle (mine was probably about 10 inches in diameter). Place on parchment paper on a baking sheet or pizza stone, which is what I used. Place in the refrigerator until the tomatoes are finished roasting.
When they are almost finished, chop your basil into ribbons and your garlic into a large mince. Remove the tomatoes from the oven and crank the temperature up to 400 degrees. Drizzle the dough with olive oil and spread all the way around. Starting from the middle, place your tomatoes onto the dough, slightly overlapping each. After the first layer, sprinkle your garlic on top. Keep layering until you only have a few slices left, then add the goat cheese and most of the basil. Finish layering and add the rest of the basil, another generous drizzle of olive oil, and lots of salt and pepper.
Place in the oven and bake for about 45 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and crispy.