Winter Vegetable Galettes

As February comes to an end, longer daylight length and warmer temperatures are awakening the hardy vegetables that have been holding in the winter kitchen garden since last fall.  While kale is already forming flower buds that I can harvest soon and throughout the spring, other remaining winter vegetables, like cabbages and leeks, really need to be harvested now, before they send out seed buds that compromise their flavor. Luckily, winter vegetable galettes are to a perfect way to use these end-of-the-winter-season vegetables.

A galette is basically a freeform, single-crust pie baked on a flat surface like a sheet pan or baking stone rather than in a pie pan, though the galette technique works well in a pie pan too.  Roll pastry dough into a circle, spread filling onto the dough to within about 2 inches of the pastry edge and fold the pastry edge up around the filling.  The result is a rustic-looking pie with the filling exposed and circled by a pastry crust.

I make galettes throughout the year, fruit galettes in summer, especially apricot galettes when friends give me apricots, and summer vegetable galettes with caponata-like fillings of eggplant, peppers and tomatoes.  But winter vegetable galettes are my favorites.

Deborah Madison has a wonderful selection of winter vegetable galettes in her Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone (1997).  I make her winter squash galette often.  Sage, roasted garlic and a little cheese are all she suggests adding to roasted winter squash.  The result is a savory squash galette that makes a perfect main dish served with a pilaf of farro or brown rice and wild rice.

I also make her leek and goat cheese galette. It is a slightly richer version of Alice Water’s leek galette that is sautéed leeks only, wrapped in crust.

Leek galetteLeek galettes have been a winter standby for years, both for dinner and as a finger-food appetizer.  I’ll be making them often in the next few weeks as I harvest the final row of leeks.

And then there is cabbage.  Who knew cabbage could make such a tasty galette!  I hadn’t made Deborah Madison’s Cabbage and Mushroom Galette until this year, and I’m wondering what took me so long.  The combination of lots of wilted cabbage with sautéed mushrooms, diced hard-boiled egg, sour cream or goat cheese, tarragon, thyme and dill is truly delicious, rich, but not too rich, and full of flavor. I’ve made it for us several times and for company once, and I have reserved the remaining January King cabbage for a couple more.

Cabbage and Mushroom Galette

(My adaptations of this recipe are in plain text below)

For the pastry

2 cups all-purpose flour (I like using whole wheat pastry flour or Bluebird Grain Farms all- purpose flour milled from hard white wheat berries.)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 Tablespoon of sugar (for fruit galettes; little or no sugar for savory galettes)
12 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into ½ tablespoon-sized pieces
1/3 to ½ cup ice water

 For the filling

2 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, finely diced
4 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded, caps thinly diced (
I’ve substituted 1 pound of crimini mushrooms and think that this galette is better with more mushrooms.)
1 teaspoon chopped thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried
1 teaspoon chopped tarragon or 1/2 teaspoon dried
1 tablespoon chopped dill or 1 teaspoon dried
6 cups thinly sliced cabbage, preferably Savoy, or 4 cups cabbage plus 2 cups other greens, such as beet, chard, or kale
salt and freshly milled pepper
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 hard-cooked egg, chopped (
I often use two hard-boiled eggs.)
1/4 cup sour cream or yogurt (
I subsitute ¼ pound goat cheese and omit the tarragon vinegar. I really like the tang the goat cheese provides.)
1 teaspoon tarragon vinegar
2 tablespoons melted butter

Cabbage galette ingredients 

For the horseradish sauce(I’ve never made this sauce, but I bet it would be good!)
1/4 cup prepared horseradish
1 cup yogurt or sour cream

1. Make pastry: In a bowl, combine the flour, sugar (if using) and salt. Cut in butter by hand, leaving some pea-sized chunks, or, if using a Food Processor, add half the butter and process until the mixture is like coarse meal; then add the rest of the butter and process briefly, leaving pea-sized or slightly larger chunks of butter. Transfer to a bowl and sprinkle ice water over the top by the tablespoon and toss with flour mixture, using a fork or your fingers, until you can bring the dough together into a ball. Press into a disk and refrigerate for ½ hour or more.

2. Prepare the filling: Heat the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, mushrooms, and herbs and cook until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the cabbage, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 cup water. (The cabbage from my garden is so fresh that I omit the ½ cup of water. The cabbage cooks in less than 10 minutes.)Cabbage galette filling start

Cover and cook slowly until the cabbage is tender, 15 to 20 minutes, turning it occasionally. Add more liquid. When tender, uncover and raise the heat to evaporate any excess moisture. (I do this step about 10 minutes after adding the cabbage.) The mixture should be fairly dry.

Cabbage galette filling finishedStir in the parsley, egg, and sour cream (I substitute ¼ pound goat cheese for sour cream). Season with vinegar (Omit if you use goat cheese) and taste for salt and pepper.

3. Assemble galette: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Roll the dough into a large thin circle, about 14-15 inches across and about 1/8 inch thick, and set it on the back of a sheet pan or cookie sheet. (I like to transfer the rolled dough to a piece of parchment paper and assemble the galette on the parchment paper then transfer parchment and galette to the sheet pan.)

Cabbage galette pastryAdd the filling, leaving about 2 inches of pastry edge,

Cabbage galette assemblythen fold the edges over and brush with the melted butter. Pour any extra butter into the vegetables. Bake until browned, 25 to 30 minutes. While it is baking, mix the horseradish and cream to form a sauce, and season to taste. When galette is done, carefully slide it onto a serving plate. Serve with the horseradish sauce on the side.

Cabbage galette done

When I’ve harvested all the cabbages, I think I will follow the recipe suggestion and substitute kale, chard or collards, even the last of the Brussels sprouts, for cabbage.  I love winter vegetable galette fillings.  My husband likes them too, but what most delights him is all that pastry, so both of us are happy with these late winter dinners.

Digging Leeks

Leeks diggingLeek roots don’t extend so deeply into the soil as, say, a single parsnip root, but leeks do have lots of tenacious little roots so harvest requires a digging fork to loosen these hardy winter alliums. And it’s a muddy task, not quite so dirty as parsnip digging but still dirty.  By this stage of winter leeks aren’t things of beauty either, no longer the vigorous, tall spears of late summer but instead a bit bent with outer leaves flopped over, even slimy.  Still, beneath this exterior they are perfectly fine, ready to harvest, trim and take to the kitchen.  Their delicate, sweet fragrance wafts up as soon as they leave the ground and intensifies as trimming creates creamy white shafts topped with fans of green.

Leeks and trimmings

Leeks have a subtle flavor, more delicate than onions or shallots. That’s why I like them. Onions offer strong sweetness, either sautéed until translucent or cooked down longer to a caramelized onion candy.  Raw, finely diced shallots give a hint of onion to vinaigrette; cooked shallots add a complex onion flavor to sauces.  And it’s certainly easier to grab a storage onion or shallot already harvested and tidily stored than it is to dig and clean a leek, but if it’s the perfume of leeks that you want then nothing else will do.

Leek and potato soup is classic as is the combination of leek, kale and potato for Dutch Boerenkool.  Leeks and winter squash in a tart, leeks and greens in a pasta sauce or leeks and flageolet beans in a casserole topped with breadcrumbs are all perfect combinations. And Gruyere in the tart, Parmesan on the pasta, goat cheese with the beans each adds richness to the flavor of leeks.  “Pan-Roasted Pork Loin with Leeks” from Marcella’s Italian Kitchen (1986) makes a hearty winter meal and a leek and goat cheese frittata is simple and delicious.

One of my favorite ways to prepare leeks is sautéed in butter and a little thyme then baked in a simple pastry crust.  The first time I served this galette from Alice Water’s Chez Panisse Vegetables was as a side dish to accompany rack of lamb.  It was a hit and ever since then, it’s been the main dish surrounded by other sides.

Leek galette

Another delicious way to prepare leeks is to slice them lengthwise, brush them lightly with olive oil and roast them at about 400 degrees until soft, usually 15-20 minutes.  Piping hot, at room temperature or marinated in lemon vinaigrette, it’s hard to decide which is best.  They are all so good.

A few weeks ago, Melissa Clark in her New York Times Good Appetite column offered one more variation on roasting leeks:  She halves leeks lengthwise, cuts them into quarter-inch slices, tosses them in olive oil, spreads them on a single layer on a sheet pan and roasts them at 425 for about twenty minutes, turning them frequently so they don’t burn.  When they’re done, golden brown and lightly crisp, they have all sorts of uses.  Clark uses them in a hearty salad of farro, chickpeas and currants but adds that she’s also used them “as a topping for fish, fowl and other vegetables, and as a garnish for soups and braised meats.”  A few nights ago, I surrounded a pile of them with fava beans and roasted Brussels sprouts for a late winter vegetable platter.  Leeks and fava beans are an amazing combination, delicate, sweet leeks and earthy, dense favas.  I could eat them every night.

Leeks, favas, Brussels

Despite all these delicious possibilities for leeks, and the pleasure I get from the process of growing them (, I confess that I was tempted to banish them from my kitchen garden this coming year.  For the past two years, leek rust has found its way to my leek patch, depositing its orange pustules on the green leaves and driving me nearly to despair.  The first year, I cut off all of diseased leaves as they appeared and sprayed a mixture of sulphur powder, a drop of dish soap and water on the remaining leaves.  Last year I replaced this spray with a mixture of neem oil and camomile tea ( and this potion worked better to slow down and even halt the progress of the rust.  As was the case the year before, the leeks kept growing, but they weren’t pretty.

Maybe if I didn’t plant leeks for a year or two I’d break the rust cycle and also protect my soil, but two things have kept me from taking this step for the year ahead.  One was a Google search that turned up a series of websites that treated leek rust as a manageable evil.  Two sites I especially like are the British Garden Organic – The National Charity for Organic Growing ( and the blog by Osborne’s Seeds in Mt. Vernon, WA (  I’m planning to follow the “prevention and control” advice from the British site.

The other encouragement to plant again this year was the mention of a seed variety that showed leek rust resistance: Bandit. I ordered a packet from Johnny’s (  If neither the growing advice nor the seed variety works, I will let leeks go for a few years, but the lovely flavor of leeks is spurring me on to do battle with rust for one more year.  Stay tuned!