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 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
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.)
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.
Stir 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.)
Add the filling, leaving about 2 inches of pastry edge,
then 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.
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.