Last week, we had some friends over for dinner, and until a few hours before they arrived, I hadn’t decided what to make. We were very low on groceries save for a few stray veggies and I didn’t want to schlep to the grocery store, or spend extra money buying ingredients at the corner store down the street.
Then I remembered that my friend Zoë is the queen of pies and tarts. She makes savoury tarts for weeknight dinners, which used to seem WILD to me. Pie crust is so finnicky! Who has the time! She’s always said it’s not that hard, and that pie crusts aren’t as intimidating as they seem. It wasn’t until yesterday that I realized she was EXTREMELY right.
I found a roasted vegetable galette recipe to guide me, on pastry chef Diala Canelo’s blog. Galettes are great because they’re rustic and don’t require any special equipment beyond some bowls and a sheet pan. I followed Diala’s flaky crust instructions (and added some extra spices to it) and it was by far the best tart crust I’ve ever made. I’ve filed this recipe away in my brain for repeated use, forever.
The galette recipe also contained another crucial tip- when making a savoury tart, it’s beneficial to use some kind of creamy sauce to line the inside of the crust, since veggies aren’t as naturally saucy as fruits. Genius. I opted for a bechamel, because I love bechamel.
I also pre-roasted the veggies before putting them in the tart so that they’d brown and crisp up and cook all the way through. Seems like an annoying extra step, but I did it while the pastry rested in the fridge, so it didn’t actually add extra time. Finally, I decided to add some sliced raw onion on top to crisp up.
You can sub out any veggies for whatever you have on hand, and you can opt for cheese instead of (or in addition to) the bechamel sauce. Some combos to try: mushrooms, ricotta & rosemary! Tomatoes, mustard & basil! Broccoli & mozzarella! I’ll probably be trying all of these out in the coming months. Today I went with what I had in the veg drawer: peppers & delicata squash, which tastes like sweet potato. It felt VERY seasonally appropriate.
Heads up, this is a Very, Very Long Recipe. I wanted to give as much detail as possible, because pastry can be scary, and I tried to make it so there’s not a lot of idle waiting time, so it jumps around a little. It’s good practice to always read a recipe all the way through before you start, and I suggest that you do that here so you make sure you have all your equipment clean and ready to go.
For the veggies
1 delicata squash
4 red, yellow, or green peppers
2 leaves sage, chopped into fine ribbons
1 medium onion, sliced into half moons
1 clove garlic
Juice and zest of 1/2 lemon
Salt & pepper
For the dough:
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup ice water
1/2 cup frozen butter
1 teaspoon salt
a few shakes each of: garlic powder, onion powder, hot paprika, fresh ground pepper
For the sauce:
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 medium onion, grated or finely diced
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1/2 jalapeño, finely diced OR 1 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper (depends what kind of spicy you’re going for- jalapeño is bright and fresh spicy, while black pepper is warmer spice)
3 tablespoons flour
2 cups milk
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
- Prep your filling veggies. Cut all the veggies into thin slices. Raw, you want about 4 cups of veggies. They’ll shrink in the oven to about 2-3 cups. I like to leave the onions aside and not pre-roast them so that they still have some bite after baking in the galette. Place all the veggies except the onion into a bowl and drizzle with a few tablespoons of olive oil.
- Grate one clove of garlic and add it to the veggies, along with the ribboned sage, using your hands to combine well. Put them onto a well-oiled baking sheet. Roast at 425 degrees F for 30 minutes.
- While they roast, prep the crust. Pour 1/3 cup of very cold water into a little bowl and place in the freezer. In a medium bowl, measure out the flour and salt, and add a few shakes of whatever dry spices you have on hand.
- Using the big holes on a box grater, grate the frozen butter. It will grate into cute little curls. Some will stick to the box so scrape it out after. Add the butter curls to the flour mix and use a fork to combine.
- Add the cold water and continue mixing with the fork. Keep at it- it will look very sandy and not like a cohesive dough at first. Eventually it will look like large, coarse crumbs with a bunch of big doughy pieces throughout.
- Turn the dough out onto a flat surface and use your hands to knead it for less than 2 minutes. The heat from your hands will melt the butter a little, which will help it come together. Don’t overwork it. When it looks like a shaggy, kind of ugly ball of dough, form it into a flat round, throw it in a ziploc or wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for an hour.
- In the meantime, make the bechamel. Dice the onion, garlic, and jalapeño if using. Heat the butter in a pan over medium heat. When it bubbles, add the onion, garlic, and jalapeño or black pepper, plus a good pinch of salt. Sautee until the onion softens a bit and the garlic is fragrant, about 2 minutes. Keep it moving all the time so the garlic doesn’t burn.
- Add the flour and sautee for another minute, keeping it moving in the pan. It’ll look crumbly and weird, but press on.
- Add 1 cup of milk and whisk well. It’ll very quickly bubble and then turn into a smooth, very thick sauce. Add another cup of milk and whisk again. Let it bubble over the heat for a minute, whisking constantly, and give it a taste. It will need more salt- the sauce should be so good and savoury that you just want to eat it with a spoon. Add a couple more pinches to your taste.
- If it gets too thick, add a few tablespoons more of milk, or even water works at this stage, to loosen it. The texture you’re looking for here is like that of a thick chowder- runnier than whipped mashed potatoes but thicker than cream sauce for pasta.
- When you’re happy with the sauce, pour it into a small bowl. Put the sauce in the fridge to cool. It’ll form a skin on the top which you can either discard or just mix back in, no big deal.
- Remove the roasted veggies from the oven when they’re totally cooked through and at least partially crispy. Add most of the onion half-moons (saving a few for garnish), plus the lemon zest and juice, toss together, and spread it all onto a plate so it can cool. Transfer the plate to the fridge for about 20 minutes, or you can speed it up and put them in the freezer for 5-10, but don’t forget about them. This step is important- you don’t want to put hot veggies directly onto the pastry- the flakiness of the dough comes from the butter bits staying cold right until they hit the oven.
- Take the dough out of the fridge and put it on a clean flat surface or large cutting board. Use a rolling pin to whack it a few times, give it a 1/4 turn, and whack it more. Do another 1/4 turn, and whack it again. Keep whacking until it’s about 2cm thick. Turning it helps it to keep its circular shape. It’s ok if it cracks a little, you can always shape it back together with your fingers later.
- Roll it out with the rolling pin until it’s about 1cm thick and transfer it onto an oiled (or parchment papered) baking sheet. At this point, you can switch to pressing it down with your fingers- try to get it into a vaguely circular shape. It can be a little oblong and weird-looking, just try to keep it an even thickness all over- aim for about 0.5cm thick.
- Put the rolled-out dough, sheet tray and all, in the freezer for 10 minutes to get the butter bits cold again.
- Bring out the veggies, bechamel, and prepared crust. Spread a thick layer of bechamel all over the crust, edge to edge, and mound all the roasted veggies in the middle, leaving at least 1.5 inches of space all around.
- Gently fold up the extra crust to cover some of the veggies and make a roundish galette. Sprinkle the edges with a little hot paprika for #presentation.
- Add some the reserved raw onion half moons to the top.
- Bake at 425 degrees F for 35 minutes until the crust is golden and the filling is bubbling and the onions on top are crisp.
- Remove from the oven, let rest for 10 minutes, slice, and enjoy. Goes great with a bright arugula salad with pickled veggies.