Tuesday, June 29, 2010

zucchini and ricotta galette

zucchini ricotta galette, served

I realized this week that it has been way, way too long since I made a galette. I remember being infatuated with them when I launched this site, uh, wow, hey, did you know this site is almost four years old? When did that happen? I was absolutely not paying attention. It’s kind of like when I was hanging out with the baby yesterday evening and he up and crawled over to the coffee table and pulled himself up to standing and, whoa, when did that happen? Who taught him that? Could you unteach him that, please? Thank you.

sliced zucchini
rolling out the dough

I digress: galettes! My galette obsession began with a wild mushroom and blue cheese galette a friend and I used to make every Christmas. It is unbelievably good, it will always be welcome, anywhere. Have you made it yet? You should. I moved onto a roasted butternut squash and caramelized onion galette the next fall and oh man, I would not kick that out of the kitchen for eating crackers. That’s how the saying goes, right? The next winter was all about Eastern Europe, with a cabbage and mushroom galette with chopped hard-boiled egg, dill and greens. I bet you didn’t know a little tart could be so filling, huh? And then, tsk-tsk, I apparently stopped making savory galettes and it’s such a shame because what each of these has in common is a crust so amazing, you will not believe it came out of your kitchen. Seriously. When I made it again yesterday and I was not sure I could tell it apart from store-bought puffed pastry. I’m not bragging, it’s a fine, fine recipe I adapted from an old Williams-Sonoma cookbook.

ready to crimp

zucchini ricotta galette

I had been looking for something that would allow zucchini and ricotta to play off each other and found it in an old Cook’s Illustrated recipe for a tart. I played around with the levels and ended up with this, a simple summer dinner or an appetizer for something more intense. Zucchini are piled high at the markets around here right now, but even if they weren’t, I think you could easily swap yellow summer squash or even eggplant (I’d cut it thinner, so it cooks faster). I’m curious to try this with tomatoes too, perhaps if you seeded them, it wouldn’t get too soggy. But mostly, and most importantly, it is perfect the way it is; it begs for a big green salad and a glass of dry white wine and frankly, so do I.

zucchini galette crust

One year ago: Mediterranean Pepper Salad
Two years ago: Zucchini Strand Spaghetti
Three years ago: Strawberry Chiffon Shortcake

Zucchini and Ricotta Galette
Crust adapted from Williams-Sonoma, filling adapted from a Cook’s Illustrated tart

I might be tempted to double the cheese filling next time I make this; it puffed beautifully in the oven but then deflated a bit. Then again, at their current levels, the zucchini and cheese balance each other nicely. There’s something to be said for not fixing what ain’t broken, right?

Since I oohed and aahed over this crust, for those that like to dissect recipes as I do, I thought I’d note that funnily enough, it’s an almost-match for my favorite pie dough, in technique as well, save two ingredients which apparently make all of the difference: 1/4 cup sour cream and 2 teaspoons of lemon juice. What this makes is an even flakier, softer pastry, the kind that leaves croissant crumbs everywhere. I know the next obvious question is “so, can I use this for a pie dough?” but I don’t advise it. It is too soft. It will get soaked and deflated under all of that heavy baked fruit. It is at its best when it is free form, just like this.

Serves 6

For the pastry:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, chilled in the freezer for 30 minutes
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces and chill again
1/4 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup ice water

Filling:
1 large or 2 small zucchinis, sliced into 1/4 inch thick rounds
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon olive oil
1 medium garlic clove, minced (about 1 teaspoon)
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup (about 1 ounce) grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup (1 ounce) shredded mozzarella
1 tablespoon slivered basil leaves

Glaze:
1 egg yolk beaten with 1 teaspoon water

Make dough: Whisk together the flour and salt in a large bowl. Sprinkle bits of butter over dough and using a pastry blender, cut it in until the mixture resembles coarse meal, with the biggest pieces of butter the size of tiny peas. In a small bowl, whisk together the sour cream, lemon juice and water and add this to the butter-flour mixture. With your fingertips or a wooden spoon, mix in the liquid until large lumps form. Pat the lumps into a ball; do not overwork the dough. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Make filling: Spread the zucchini out over several layers of paper towels. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and let drain for 30 minutes; gently blot the tops of the zucchini dry with paper towels before using. In a small bowl, whisk the olive oil and the garlic together; set aside. In a separate bowl, mix the ricotta, Parmesan, mozzarella, and 1 teaspoon of the garlicky olive oil together and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Prepare galette: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. On a floured work surface, roll the dough out into a 12-inch round. Transfer to an ungreased baking sheet (though if you line it with parchment paper, it will be easier to transfer it to a plate later). Spread the ricotta mixture evenly over the bottom of the galette dough, leaving a 2-inch border. Shingle the zucchini attractively on top of the ricotta in concentric circles, starting at the outside edge. Drizzle the remaining tablespoon of the garlic and olive oil mixture evenly over the zucchini. Fold the border over the filling, pleating the edge to make it fit. The center will be open. Brush crust with egg yolk glaze.

Bake the galette until the cheese is puffed, the zucchini is slightly wilted and the galette is golden brown, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from the oven, sprinkle with basil, let stand for 5 minutes, then slide the galette onto a serving plate. Cut into wedges and serve hot, warm or at room temperature.


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