Can you believe the year is coming to an end already?
It seems as though with each year that passes, time is speeding up. More and more of the year passes in a blur, and I find a sense of panic sometimes takes over me, causing me to feel a pressing and desperate need to stop everything and go somewhere or do something that’ll force time to slow down and days to stop looking the same. A vacation, perhaps, is always the most appealing solution to escape it all, but usually the least feasible. If only one had unlimited vacation days and a travel sponsor!
But thankfully, travel isn’t the only way to regain some sense of calm and mindfulness. There are several other less drastic (and expensive) ways I have found that help me in times of overwhelm and raised anxiety and stress levels. Things as simple as a day spent outdoors in a beautiful setting, reading a really good novel, going for a relaxed walk and a visit to my local bookshop all really do help to lower my internal panic monster (and monster IT IS).
But perhaps nothing is quite as therapeutic to me as cooking, especially if it involves baking or pastry. Spending some time pottering about in the kitchen has always been a life-saver for me during times of unease and uncertainty – and man, have I had ALOT of those lately.
Part of the food creating process that I enjoy deeply, is taking a stroll at a farmer’s market or a well-stocked grocery store to draw inspiration from whatever produce is currently in season, and in my corner of the world, my absolute favourite local grocer to do that in is Harris Farm Markets. It is my go-to for when I need some instant motivation or recipe inspiration, and that is exactly what happened with these glorious heirloom tomatoes.
The moment I saw them, I knew I had to make something with them. I knew it had to be something simple and beautiful, to showcase them and make them the undisputed star of the dish, and this tart instantly popped into my head. I had made it once last summer, but the tomatoes I used were nowhere near as pretty or special as these and I had never wrote down the recipe or photographed it, but I knew it would be the perfect way to celebrate these stunning heirloom tomatoes. Also, seeing as these gems almost look like shiny red Christmas baubles, I thought they would be the perfect addition to any Aussie Summer Christmas table!
The crust for the galette is my basic wholewheat shortcrust pastry. I’ve used it endless times before, both in sweet and savoury recipes, but for this recipe I ended up having to make one-and-a-half times my usual single quantity in order to contain the large amount of filling.
If you look at the photos, you’ll see that the first time I made it, the edges of pastry that were folded over the filling were rather thin, about 5cm, and I learned the hard way that this wasn’t enough at all. Minutes after putting the galette into the oven, the filling expanded and the sides started to flop open, and I had to take it out of the oven to re-fold them and support them with crumpled up foil to keep them from collapsing. It was still delicious, albeit slightly structurally flawed, so I then re-made the recipe with a larger amount of pastry, as well as supported the sides with foil from the start, and it came out WAY better.
The upside? We got to eat TWO delicious galettes in one week! Ha! We did share one with friends though, so don’t worry, we aren’t obese just yet.
The filling is a lovely ricotta cheese mixed with herbs and other fresh flavourings, topped with plenty of those stunning tomatoes and baked till wonderfully golden and caramelised. The finished galette tastes delicious warm, but equally yummy at room temperature, so it really is a great dish to make in advance for when you are having guests over for lunch or dinner.
Give it a try if you are looking for an impressive vegetarian dish to add to your Christmas table, especially if you are having an Australian summer Christmas like I am and have access to the abundance of local sweet summer tomatoes like these beauties from Harris Farm.
But worry not; if time is too short to add this to your Christmas menu (or if you are currently freezing your butts off in the northern hemisphere!), this tart is lovely on any warm summer’s day, when tomatoes are ripe and in season!
Have a wonderful Christmas and new year everyone!
*Disclaimer: this post is in collaboration with Harris Farm Markets
- FOR THE PASTRY
- • 240g wholewheat flour
- • 1 tsp. salt
- • 170g unsalted butter, very cold, cut into 2-3cm cubes*
- • 100ml ice cold water
- • 1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
- FOR THE RICOTTA FILLING
- • 500g fresh ricotta cheese
- • 2 eggs
- • 100g parmesan cheese, grated
- • 1 tbsp. lemon zest
- • 4 tbsp. chopped fresh herbs (such as rosemary, oregano, basil, thyme)
- • 1 clove of garlic, minced
- • 1 tsp. salt
- TO ASSEMBLE
- • 500-700g ripe tomatoes (I used a variety of heirloom, cherry & plum tomatoes)
- • olive oil for drizzling
- • sea salt for sprinkling
- • 1 egg, beaten with 1 tbsp. milk for brushing
- • extra grated parmesan, optional
- • extra fresh herbs, optional
- MAKE THE PASTRY: Place the flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine. Add the butter and pulse several times until the mixture is sandy and a few larger pea-sized lumps of butter are still visible.
- Combine the water & the vinegar in a small jug or cup. Turn the food processor on low, then drizzle the water mixture into the flour mixture while the motor is running, & continue to process until the dough just begins to form and clump together around the blade, about 20 seconds.
- Set a large piece of plastic wrap on your bench and transfer the dough right onto it. Flatten it into a round flat disk and wrap it tightly, then place it in the fridge for 30min - 1 hour**.
- MAKE THE FILLING: In a food processor, combine all the ingredients for the filling and process until smooth. You can also do this by hand in a large bowl with a big whisk. Cover and place in the fridge until needed.
- Preheat the oven to 190C (375F)
- Prepare a large baking sheet by lining it with a large (about 40-50cm) layer of aluminium foil, followed by an equally sized layer of baking paper on top. Set aside.
- ROLL OUT THE PASTRY: Dust a clean kitchen bench with flour and take out you pastry from the fridge. Unwrap it and place it onto the floured surface, then dust the top lightly with flour.
- Using a rolling pin, start rolling the dough; you may need to bang out the dough with the rolling pin to soften it a bit in the beginning, then simply continue rolling, while rotating the dough and sprinkling with extra flour as needed to ensure nothing sticks to the bench or the rolling pin. If the edges start to break at any point, simply pinch and push them back together and keep rolling. Continue rolling until the dough is an approximately 40cm circle, about ½ a centimetre thick.
- Transfer the dough to the prepared baking sheet (it’s ok if it is a bit too big for the baking sheet and overhangs a little as you will be folding up the sides) and place in the fridge for 10 minutes to firm it up again. TIP: I like to use my rolling pin to transfer the dough easily by rolling it onto the pin, then unrolling it again onto the baking sheet.
- While the pastry is in the fridge, slice your tomatoes into thick slices or wedges, keeping the smaller ones (such as cherry tomatoes) in halves or quarters. Set aside.
- ASSEMBLE THE GALETTE: Take out both the dough and the filling from the fridge. Pour the filling into the middle of the dough round, and use a spatula or spoon to spread it out, leaving a border of about 10-12cm thick all around.
- Arrange the tomatoes onto the filling, making sure you overlap them quite a bit, as they will shrink as well as spread out while cooking.
- Drizzle the tomatoes with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt, then fold the edges of the dough up onto the filling & tomatoes snugly all the way around to form your galette.
- Crumple up the foil and baking paper all around the galette so that it almost forms a little protective wall to support the weight of the sides of the galette and prevent it from spreading out and opening up too much during baking (refer to photos). Place the whole galette in the fridge one last time for just 10 minutes, to ensure that the pastry is cold and firm before placing it into the oven; this prevents it falling apart or becoming soggy.
- Take the galette out of the fridge, brush the pastry folds with the beaten egg and sprinkle with either some extra grated parmesan or a little sea salt.
- Place the galette in the preheated oven and bake for 50-60 minutes, or until the sides and golden brown, the filling is set and the tomatoes are cooked. Sprinkle with extra herbs if you like, then serve warm or at room temperature.
**at this stage, you can keep the dough in the fridge for up to 3 days, or freeze it for up to 3 months for use later; just defrost it overnight in the fridge before use.