This week I went on a walk. The sun was soothing and warm. It was a strange sight to see the neighborhood playground empty, and I found myself both hopeful and nervous about the prospect of seeing another person. What a strange way to think, and yet here I was. My two small boys walked with me, holding their floppy stuffed animals, and I tried to soak in the day and quiet my anxious mind.
And then I saw it — an apricot tree spilling over the neighbor’s gate, its branches alive and well, bursting with full white blossoms. Some of the flowers had scattered onto the street, a bright contrast to the dusty road. I may have been a bit foggy that morning, but all of a sudden I felt fully awake. The tree was not only unscathed in the midst of our collective distress, it was thriving. As we walked up the road, while my kids were busy trying to catch a glimpse of a rabbit that had scampered into a bush, for just a minute the tree transformed in my mind. It might as well have been a still-life painting, framed in golden wood and hanging in a grand museum. It was both extravagant in its beauty and utilitarian in its function. Spring has not been canceled. The comfort this brought was palpable.
Food is necessary for our health and survival, but it’s also one of the purest forms of art, straight from the natural world. We can find this art in our kitchens. I’m not sure there has ever been a better time to go for it and make something just because, or in this case, because it’s delicious and beautiful. This week I’m sharing my recipe for a Spring Vegetable Galette. Don’t let the French word “galette” scare you off. It’s a free-form pie that should come with a warning: Beware! This simple pie-making technique may cause you to neglect your pie dish for the considerable future.
There is a certain amount of privilege that allows taking a view of food that extends beyond necessity and survival. Not only do I want to acknowledge this, but I also feel an immense amount of hope that we live in a community that so actively seeks to increase food security in a variety of ways; from farms such as Reunity Resources, which donates thousands of pounds of food each year to hunger efforts while reinvigorating the land with regenerative agriculture, to the Santa Fe Farmers Market, which provides an abundance of nutritious and locally grown food through innovative programs like Double Up Food Bucks for SNAP/EBT cardholders.
The farmers market has taken its responsibility of providing safe food amid this crisis to the next level with more than a dozen newly adopted safety protocols. I can’t think of a better place to find the spring vegetables for this recipe while supporting our local farmers at the same time.
As always, you can get creative with what vegetables to use. Currently, I would keep an eye out for spring onions and radishes. They would be a lovely addition for the warm garnishing salad that tops the galette.
Spring Vegetable Galette
Makes 6-8 servings; estimated total time: 2 hours
For the pie dough:
13/4 (196 grams) sticks unsalted butter, divided
1 tablespoon (12 grams) apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup (118 grams) cold water
21/4 cups (333 grams) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons (12 grams) kosher salt
1 tablespoon (12 grams) sugar
For the galette filling:
1 tablespoon butter
2 leeks, trimmed, cleaned and sliced (white and light green parts only)
4 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
4 cups fresh spinach, chopped
½ cup cream, plus a tablespoon more for brushing on crust (or unsweetened coconut milk)
½ cup Parmesan, finely grated
Pinch of ground nutmeg
2-3 Yukon Gold potatoes, thinly sliced
For the warm garnishing salad:
1 tablespoon butter
1 bunch of asparagus, tips sliced and stalks peeled into strips
½ cup peas
1 teaspoon herbes de Provence
1 lemon, zested and half the lemon juiced
salt and freshly ground pepper
Make the pie dough: Cut butter into small cubes and put in the freezer. Mix the cold water, an ice cube and the vinegar in a cup and set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and sugar.
At this point, the butter should be super-cold but not frozen. Remove butter from the freezer and add to your flour mixture. Using your fingers (or a food processor if you have one, as it produces the best pea-sized butter pieces) squeeze the butter pieces into the flour until the butter is blended into the flour and resembles small peas.
Add about half of the vinegar and water mixture. Stir with your hands or a wooden spoon. At this point, the dough will be crumbly. Continue adding and stirring a little of the vinegar-water at a time until dough comes together into a ball.
Wrap in plastic wrap or parchment paper and cool in the fridge for at least one hour or up to three days. If you want to keep it longer, freeze and thaw the day before you want to use it.
When I make pie dough, if I have the ingredients on hand I will always try to make a double batch of dough and freeze half of it for another pie later.
Make the galette: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large pot over medium heat, add butter until melted. Add leeks and cook for around five minutes, or until they start to wilt. Add garlic and spinach and cook a few more minutes. You want to get as much water evaporated as possible. Now add cream, Parmesan cheese, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Let this mixture cook for a few minutes and take off the heat.
Now it’s time to assemble the galette: On a lightly floured clean surface, roll out the dough into a 10-inch round. Transfer dough to a large sheet tray lined with parchment paper.
Spread a third of the spinach filling on the surface of the dough, leaving a 1-inch border.
Lay potatoes over the filling, just barely overlapping. Repeat with another layer of filling, potatoes and filling for the top. Fold the edges up and over the filling using the 1-inch border as a guide. This is a rustic tart, so don’t worry about it being perfect. Brush cream over the top of the pastry. Crack some sea salt and pepper over the entire tart. Bake for about 45-55 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool for 10 minutes before cutting.
Make the warm garnishing salad: While the galette is cooling, in a small pan over medium heat, cook the butter until it starts to brown. Add the asparagus spears and cook for a few minutes. Then add peas, herbes de Provence, lemon juice, zest, salt and pepper, and cook for just a few minutes until the asparagus is just tender. Spoon this warm salad over top of the galette. Slice and serve immediately.