Last weekend, my nephew Jack announced that he wanted to see the Great Balls of China.
A little switch makes a big difference.
Take this Provencal Tomato, Olive and Goat Cheese Galette. At first glance, it looks like a pizza. But it’s actually a free-form tart piled high with sliced Roma tomatoes, black olives, crumbled goat cheese and onions sautéed with garlic and herbs. That might not sound like a huge difference, but the pie pastry is impossibly flaky, so when you cut into it with your fork, it shatters, and all of the toppings that were barely contained anyway just start tumbling down into this beautiful mess of buttery crust and bright, summery flavors.
The recipe says it’s eight servings, but my belly says four.
I have no doubt you’ll get loads of pleasure from eating this galette, but to get the most pleasure out of making it, you’ll need a few things. A lazy afternoon would be ideal. Some good music. And a partner. Someone willing to prep the tomatoes while you sauté the onion and dance when the spirit moves you.
But first, the pastry dough. You could make it by hand or use a stand mixer, but I love the convenience of the food processor. Pulse the dry ingredients, pulse the fat, add enough water to bring everything together, and you’re done. After the dough chills for an hour, you can roll it into a circle and make a rim all the way around by folding the edge inward. Then prick the pastry with a fork (to let the air escape and keep it from getting puffy), and bake the crust for about 10 minutes.
While the crust cools, you can tackle those tomatoes and onions. Then pile all of the toppings on the cooled pastry. Don’t skip the dried bread crumbs! They’re there to soak up juice from the tomatoes, and after 30 minutes in the oven, they give the galette a nice crunch on top.
Once the galette comes out of the oven, you’re supposed to let it rest for 30 minutes. This could require a distraction. Like doing the dishes. Making a salad. Or planning your next trip to China.
I hear it has great balls.
Provencal Tomato, Olive and Goat Cheese Galette
Adapted from “Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Baking”
Makes 8 servings
- Flaky Pie Pastry (recipe below) – or storebought refrigerated pie crust
- 10 plum (Roma) tomatoes
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 5 tablespoons (1/2 ounce) chopped fresh basil, divided
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 6 ounces fresh goat cheese
- Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
- 24 oil-cured black olives, pitted
- 1/2 cup coarse dried bread crumbs
- Prepare the Flaky Pie Pastry, wrap, and refrigerate.
- Position a rack in the lower third of the oven, and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Oil a half-sheet pan or a 14-inch pizza pan with olive oil.
- Lightly dust a work surface and a rolling pin with flour. Roll out the chilled dough into a round 13 inches in diameter and 1/8-inch-thick. Trim off any ragged edges to make an even 12-inch round. Place the dough into the prepared pan. Fold about 1/2 inch of the edge inward to form a small rolled rim around the entire edge of the round. Prick the pastry lightly all over with a fork. Bake until firm, 7-10 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack.
- To Prep the Tomatoes: Bring a saucepan three-fourths full of water to a boil. Cut a small, shallow X in the blossom end of each tomato. Immerse half of the tomatoes in the boiling water, and leave for 30 seconds. Using a slotted spoon, transfer them to a work surface. Repeat with the remaining tomatoes. When cool enough to handle, using your fingertips or a small knife and starting at the X, slip off the skins. Cut the tomatoes lengthwise into slices about 1/2-inch thick and place in a bowl.
- To Prep the Onion: In a frying pan over medium heat, warm 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the onion, and sauté until soft, about 6 minutes. Stir in the garlic, 2 tablespoons of basil, the thyme, and the parsley. Sauté until the garlic softens, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl, and let cool slightly, about 15 minutes.
- Leaving the rolled rim of the pastry uncovered, spread the cooked onion mixture evenly over the prebaked crust. Using a teaspoon, dot the onion mixture with about two-thirds of the goat cheese.
- Discard any accumulated juice from the tomatoes. Arrange the tomato slices, lightly touching, to cover the crust completely, except for the rolled rim.
- Dot the tomatoes with the remaining cheese and the remaining 3 tablespoons chopped basil. Drizzle the surface evenly with 1 tablespoon of the oil. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper.
- Place the olives evenly over the top. Sprinkle with the bread crumbs, and then drizzle with the remaining 1 tablespoon oil.
- 1Bake the galette until the edges of the crust are brown and the bread crumbs are crisp and golden, 30-35 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool on the pan for 30 minutes before serving.
Flaky Pie Pastry
For a sweet version of this pastry, add 1 tablespoon of sugar.
- 5 tablespoons (75 grams) cold unsalted butter
- 3 tablespoons cold vegetable shortening (You can use the same amount of butter, but it won’t be as flaky.)
- 1 1/3 cups (220 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 4 tablespoons ice water
- Combine the flour and salt in the food processor. Pulse 2 or 3 times to mix.
- Add butter and shortening pieces, and pulse 8-10 times until the mixture forms large, coarse crumbs the size of large peas.
- Add the ice water a little at a time, and pulse 10-12 times, just until the dough begins to come together but does not form a ball.
- Transfer the dough to a work surface. Shape it into a 6-inch disk, wrap it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate until well chilled, about 1 hour or for up to overnight.