A summer tomato fresh from a farm is a thing to eat if you’re feeling like you need a boost of the spirits or a restored faith in magic. That a summer tomato starts as a seedling in a farmer’s shed while the earth is still mostly slumbering and then grows into a crown jewel so dark and delicious that it causes anyone eating it to simultaneously smile and groan is a small miracle. It’s the kind of improbably normal magic that’s worth just sighing over for a minute.
This past weekend we walked down the street from my mom and dad’s to our neighbors farm (the place where we got married and one of my favorite corners on the planet). We gathered a bundle of zinnias and snapdragons and rudbeckia from their stand, tucked tomatoes into our bag until it got heavy, and then weighed out our spoils and counted out the requisite dollars for leaving in the wooden cash box. A small-town honor system to make you smile, if ever there was one.
Eating tomatoes fresh is a singular delight; all warm from the sun shining on the farm stand. The thin skins break open with the slightest pressure. There’s no scolding a two-year-old who grabs a tomato straight from the bin and takes a chin-dripping bite. Toddlers generally have good instincts and about tomatoes in particular. But sometimes one feels the need to make those sweet juices work a little bit harder; to introduce them to more heat so that the sugars come out once the burbling commences and before you know it you have something jammy and delicious—and, if possible—even more worthy of a groan.
In an air condition-less apartment a tomato galette is not something that we get to indulge in until well into September, so even though the day was hot, I took advantage of the cooler breeze running through the kitchen at my mom and dad’s and cranked the oven to 350.
A tomato galette can be a tricky thing if you’re the type to worry. There’s a chance it will come out too soggy, or leak all over the pan. I find that if you make a buttery enough crust, roll it out fairly thick, and keep the whole thing in the oven for an extra five minutes or so, the tomato juices aren’t something to be too concerned about. Let’s also be real: a galette can sometimes be a dried-out thing to eat. It can be all burbly and delicious-looking in the oven, but by the time the dough is cooked through, the fruit on top can be a little bit on the withered end of the spectrum. Tomatoes are the answer then; the more they roast the more delicious they become.
What you need:
For the crust:
1 cup of flour, plus a few tablespoons
An pinch of salt, to taste
1 stick of butter (I use salted)
Fresh herbs, optional (I used savory)
A few tablespoons of cold water to pull it together
1 egg, beaten
For the filling:
4-5 small tomatoes, sliced (more or less depending on the size)
2-3 slices of yellow onion, separated into rings and sliced in half
Sea salt to taste
1 cup or so grated Parmesan cheese (I used Parmesan-Reggiano)
3 stalks summer savory, de-stemmed
What to do
For the crust:
I used my same-old/same-old crust recipe. My pastry cutter broke a few months back and I’ve been doing the mixing bit by hand and liking the results even better. Here’s what to do:
Toss a pinch of salt into a cup or so of flour and mix. Cut cold butter into small pieces and using your fingers, crumble the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles small crumbs. Add fresh herbs if using. Slowly add a tablespoon of cold water at a time and use your hands to pull together a ball of dough. Wrap the ball and pop it into the freezer for ten minutes until chilled through.
Grated cheese for sprinkling above and below the tomatoes.
For the galette:
You just can’t go wrong with the filling here, so swap cheese, herbs, etc. to taste.
+ Once chilled, roll out your dough to approximately 1/4-inch thick. Sprinkle grated parmesan cheese on surface of the dough and arrange sliced tomatoes in the center of the rolled dough.
+ Top tomatoes with onion slices, a sprinkle of sea salt and fresh savory. If you have remaining parmesan, sprinkle that on top, too.
+ Fold the edges of the dough over the edges of the tomatoes; each fold overlapping the next. Beat an egg and brush the pastry with the egg wash before baking for 50 minutes at 350 degrees F. (I bake mine on parchment paper to avoid a huge mess should there be a leak.) Check to see that the crust is richly golden and cook for an extra five minutes if need be.
Allow plenty of oven time to allow the tomatoes to set a bit and the crust to turn golden.
What about you guys? Any favorite ways to enjoy a summer tomato?
More farm stand tomatoes, right this way.