From the first time I was introduced to the galette, it was love at first sight. Imagine a dish that breaks all of the rules by doing everything backwards and then still comes out looking super sexy and original!
I think I may be attaching my own identity a little too much to the galette, but that's what foodies do right? Maybe I should just say that the galette is my spirit dish. Wild and unkempt in all the right ways.
The great thing about a galette is that you can basically throw anything you want inside. It's all about experimentation. You can make a savory or a sweet galette and it always comes out of the oven looking like you spent all day preparing this magical dish that makes all of the worlds problems go away.
My first galette was made with butternut squash in Cape Town, SA of all places. I was working with a small non-profit called Abalimi Bezekhaya that supported urban farmers in the townships and ran a small CSA (community supported agriculture) with the items they grew.
Butternut squash happened to be a regular in our shares. Lucky for me since if asked my favorite vegetable I would probably say either sweet potatoes or butternut squash. There is just something about the sweetness and the velvety texture of cooked butternut squash that brings me comfort.
I guess it is good for my eyesight as well since those who know me best sometimes call me "hawk eye". Plus, it won't turn you orange if you eat too much of it...well, that last part has not been fully verified through testing so be sure to let me know if you run into any, umm, skin changes.
So here's some tips for using butternut squash, as it grows particularly well in our region and will soon become a regular staple in your CSA shares or at Farmers Markets throughout the Autumn and Winter months.
Butternut squash will last up to a month if kept in a cool, dry spot. Once cut it becomes very perishable, but I have never had any need to save uncooked butternut squash. My least favorite thing about butternut squash (and Winter squashes in general) is peeling and cutting them. Though this is part of the process and should be embraced as part of the joy of slow living.
The easiest way to use a butternut squash is roasting it in two halves and then scooping out the flesh. Once roasted it can easily be scooped out with a spoon. However, sometimes you want your squash to be slightly crispy and browned, which can only occur by peeling and cubing the squash before cooking (as in the recipe below). Like I said, embrace, and maybe get yourself a good commercial grade peeler in the process.
For the crust
- 3 tbsp plain yogurt
- ⅓ cups ice water (with ice cubes in it)
- 1 cup flour
- ¼ cup cornmeal
- 1 tsp sugar
- ½ tsp salt
- 7 tbsp unsalted butter, chilled and cut into cubes
For the filling
- 1 small butternut squash, peeled and cut into ¼ inch thick slices
- 1 red onion, thinly sliced
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- 1 cup goat cheese
- ¼ cup caramelized pecans
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- Balsamic reduction
For the caramelized pecans
- ¼ cup pecans
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tsp olive oil
- pinch of salt
Remove the ice cubes from the ice water. In a small bowl, mix the yogurt and the ice water together and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar and salt. Work the cubes of chilled butter into the flour mixture until the mixture crumbles into pieces that range in size from 'bread crumbs' to 'small peas.' The smaller pieces make the dough tender, the larger ones make it flaky.
Sprinkle the yogurt mixture over the dough, one tablespoon at a time. With your hands, gather the dough. Wrap the dough in saran wrap and refrigerate for at least two hours (or freeze). If in a rush I have used immediately and it worked out just fine.
Heat oven to 425 degrees. Toss your slices of butternut squash in olive oil and lay down in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake for 20-30 minutes, until tender.
Heat olive oil in a frying pan and add the pecans, brown sugar, and salt. Toss to coat and stir constantly for 4-5 minutes until sugar caramelizes and coats the pecans. Remove pecans from frying pan and set aside.
Add 1 tsp olive oil to hot frying pan. Add thinly sliced red onion. Cook on medium-low for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions are soft and sweet.
Once the butternut is out of the oven, lower the heat to 400 degrees.
Roll your dough out on a floured surface, adding more flour as needed to prevent sticking. The crust should be about ⅛ inch thick and between 8 and 10 inches in diameter.
Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and transfer the rolled out dough to the parchment. Top dough with a layer of goat cheese followed by the butternut squash, then the onions, then another layer of goat cheese and finally the pecans. Arrange galette filling ingredients so that the outer 2-3 inch border of the crust remains topping-free.
Fold the topping free edges of the dough over towards the middle of the galette. The crust with naturally fold where it needs to, creating a lovely rustic edge pattern.
In a small bowl, lightly beat an egg with a small drizzle of water. Brush the egg wash on the folded over edges of the galette. This step isn't necessary, but it adds a nice glow to the finished product.
Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes, until the crust is nicely browned. Let cool for 10 minutes or so before eating and top with a drizzle of balsamic reduction.
* Recipe adapted from Port & Fin