Winter Tomato Galette

Jack has a book called Each Peach Pear Plum. It's a sort of mashup of nursery rhyme and fairy tale characters, from Cinderella to Mother Hubbard, Robin Hood to the Three Bears, and at the end they all sit down in a clearing in the forest and eat plum pie and drink tea, which Jack insists is actually mommy's coffee because I have taught him well. As children's books go, this one is pretty soothing: idyllic countryside, nostalgic characters, summer fruits. It's all very adorable and I want to live there. And ever since trying his first peach about two years ago, Jack asks for a peach whenever we read this book. Every. Single. Time.

Now, I really, truly do feel that one of the pleasures of teaching your kid about food is teaching him about seasons. When will the pumpkins will come back? Why are apples an all the time fruit but strawberries are a sometimes fruit? When can we go back to Michigan to pick blueberries and blackberries and eat so, so many peaches? I don't know how most of the world works, and half the time I don't even think I have a grasp on how food works, but I know the answers to those questions. I love to show him what's growing when, and where, in any given season, and help him learn to look forward to the seasons to come.

This means that sometimes you have to wait (and wait) for the perfect spring strawberry. The bumper crop of zucchini, still hot from the sun. The peaches and plums to tuck into every pie, every tart, every compote, every bowl, every hand.

But sometimes. Sometimes if you're really lucky, you get the best of both worlds. 

Sure, you can do some things to winter produce to make it more lovable. Roast it. Confit it. Ferment it. Basically give it a lot of time and space to think about new ways of expressing itself. Like a teenager. But winter lacks in both produce and weather forecasts a certain brightness, short of citrus of course, which is certainly abundant but is also grown hundreds of miles away.

So where do you turn for this brightness? For acidity that mellows into sweetness in less than an hour?

Turns out the winter tomato can sometimes surprise you. Taking particularly well to a quick marinade with best friends salt, garlic, and olive oil while you roll out some pastry dough (store-bought or homemade), the tomatoes practically luxuriate in the radiant heat of the oven, concentrating their sweetness, allowing their juices to seep into a bit of ricotta and parmesan you've absentmindedly mushed together and spread over this dough to make something like a very pretty, French-ish pizza. Which means you're much more likely to get away with this galette as a brunch centerpiece or breakfast leftover, triumphant room-temp desk lunch, or a dinner that reminds you that warmer days and juicy tomatoes will come back, as they always do.

I want to take a second to thank the folks at MightyVine for giving me a whole mess of utterly gorgeous tomatoes to play around and make some recipes with. Outside of those perfect summer backyard or market tomatoes, theirs are the only ones I want to cook with in, say, fall, or winter, or these first few days of spring. 

Notes:

  • I used MV's cute little Robinio tomatoes here - they're a cherry tomato that comes on the vine - but you can use any small tomato you like.
  • I am a devotee of Serious Eats' easy pie dough for both sweet and savory applications. Below I'm simply omitting the sugar and halving the quantities. I also add the water in the food processor, instead of folding it in with a spatula in the original recipe, because I don't need this to be as flaky and impressive as a true pie crust.
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Winter Tomato Galette - in partnership with MightyVine

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

For the pastry dough:

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, cold, cut into 1/4-inch pats
  • 3 tablespoons cold water

For the galette:

  • 1 pound small tomatoes, such as cherry or grape, halved
  • 5 sprigs thyme
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced very small, almost into a paste
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup shaved parmesan
  • 1 egg, beaten

Method

In a food processor, pulse the flour and the salt a few times to combine. Add the butter and pulse about 10-15 times, or until the butter is slightly larger than a pea. Add the water 1 tablespoon at a time and pulse a few times to work it in before adding the next tablespoon.

Dump the contents onto a floured work surface or into a large bowl. Press the dough together gently and quickly to form a disk. Wrap tightly in plastic and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Heat the oven to 425F. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and allow to soften slightly. Prepare a large sheet pan with a layer of parchment paper and set aside. 

In a medium bowl, combine the tomatoes, thyme, olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper. Stir gently to combine. Set aside and allow to marinate.

In another medium bowl, combine the ricotta and parmesan. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Flour a work surface and the top of the dough. Roll out the dough to a roughly 14-in round. Transfer the dough to the parchment-lined pan. 

Spread the cheese mixture evenly over the dough, leaving about a 1 to 1 1/2-inch gap before the outer edge - you'll be folding this over later. Remove the tomatoes from their marinade, allowing a bit of the oil and tomato juice to drain off, and place on the galette cut side up.

Fold the outer edges of the dough over onto the galette - this does not have to be pretty! Each time I worry about the aesthetics it always turns out great. The egg wash will hide many imperfections. Brush the beaten egg all over the outer edges of the dough.

Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the crust is a deep golden brown and the liquid from the tomatoes has mostly evaporated. It will take a lot for this thing to burn, so when in doubt, give it a few more minutes!




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