The brunch I went to last January is happily now becoming a tradition–we met again last weekend at another co-worker’s beautiful Brookline apartment. We had lox and quiche, coffee cake and fruit salad. In trying to decide what I would make I thought through various things: sweet or savory? Light in hopes of spring or more substantial given the reality of winter in Boston? In the end I looked in the fridge and noticed the deep red beets from our CSA share. I thought “wouldn’t that look pretty arranged on a plate?” Not that I thought for a moment of bringing a platter of sliced boiled beets. I called Karen to see if my idea to make a beet galette was a crazy one. I wasn’t sure if we had enough beets so Karen suggested onions and I thought perhaps some potatoes could round it out (in retrospect, the onions were a good idea, the potatoes not so much). Perhaps rather foolhardy, but I decided to go ahead and make up a recipe for this brunch group. So I roasted the beets in the oven and thought about what else I could add. I recalled that I have recently begun to like beets paired with something very acidic–vinegar for example. For me that really tones down the overly sweet and strong flavor of the beet (I’m still “learning to like” these guys and having varying success depending on the preparation). I then hit upon the idea of interspersing thinly sliced lemon among the beets, and voila:
Whole Beet and Lemon Galette
For the galette crust
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 stick cold unsalted butter (frozen if possible), cut into cubes
- 1 tablespoon dried tarragon
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 4 (but up to 6) tablespoons ice-cold water
For the topping
- 4 medium sized beets with their greens
- two lemons
- ricotta salata or feta (optional)
- salt and pepper
Make the galette. Pulse together the flour, butter cubes, and tarragon until pea sized in a food processor. Slowly add the water and pulse until the mixture comes together in a ball. Right before this happens the sound of the machine will change. Pat the dough out into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill for at least an hour and up to a day.
Preheat the oven to 400F. Make the topping. Chop off the top and bottom ends of the beets, reserving the greens. Place the beets in a roasting pan and fill with water up to 1/4 an inch. Cover with aluminum foil and roast until tender, about an hour. Remove the beets from the oven and reduce the temperature to 375F (if intending to bake the galette immediately). Cool the beets and remove the skins, then thinly slice. In the meantime, bring a pot of salted water to a boil and add the beet greens. Cook until tender (about 5 minutes) and drain. Mix the greens together with the juice of half a lemon, reserving the other half. Thinly slice the second lemon.
Roll the galette dough into a round about 13″ wide. Arrange the beets and lemon slices on the dough and sprinkle with the chopped or shredded cheese. Squeeze the reserved half of the lemon over the topping. Bake for 30 minutes and then pile up the greens in the center of the galette in a mound, and bake another 5-10 minutes. Remove from the oven and enjoy hot or at room temperature.
- Ricotta salata does not seem to melt; thus it did not provide the moisture to “bind” the topping to the dough (like a pizza) that I had expected. Feta would be a good substitute as it is also a salty cheese, and is more widely available. While ricotta salata is not particularly expensive (as far as specialty cheeses go) it may not be as easy to find.
- While this galette takes some planning ahead (the time to chill the dough, cook and cool the beets, etc), it is not particularly labor intensive. I prepared the beets and the dough the night before and then assembled and baked in the morning. While I broke it up because I started on it too late in the evening, it did have the virtue of being “fresh baked” for the brunch.
Finally, I welcome any suggestions! The use of tarragon was totally experimental, based on a suggestion by Deborah Madison that beets have an “affinity” for tarragon. I meant to pay attention while I ate it to think about whether it all worked together but I was too busy wrangling little E.
Mostly I am just proud of myself for having at least tried (with at least some success–though I don’t know if this bowled anyone over, it at least was “good enough” in my opinion) to make up my own recipe!