Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Leek and Swiss Chard Galette

I feel like the last 4 months have just been so busy that I haven't had a moment to myself. When I finally had a free weekend at home, I did the first thing I could think of- I went foraging. Well, urban foraging at the Ferry Building farmer's market in search of wonderful quintessential spring delights. As I walked through the stalls brimming with local Spring produce, I filled my bag with beautiful ramps, fragrant green garlic, delicate pea shoots, gorgeous rainbow chard, bundles of asparagus, tiny baby carrots, and so on... If only I could get my hands on those all-too-elusive fava beans!

The unpredictable changes in temperature during Spring make it such a wonderful season for experimenting with cooking. When it is chilly and rainy, warm and filling dishes with bright spring vegetables and a touch of butter make an incredibly satisfying dinner while still hinting at Spring. Then when a warm day hits, it is a perfect excuse for a lighter meal, composed of sides more often than not, with bright, young fresh ingredients.

I was so excited to find wonderful Rainbow chard at the farmer's market! Rainbow chard has crisp-tender, thick ribs in a range of colors- bright yellow, silvery white, rhubarb red, and pink. Select chard that has fresh, crisp and deeply green large leaves with stiff ribs. These will be the most flavorful and tenderest.

I've been wanting to make a galette and thought chard would be a perfect Spring vegetable filling. In place of onions, I decided to use leeks for a more refined flavor. Seriously I adore leeks... one of my favorite antipasti is a leek ragu, where the leeks are gently cooked until soft and almost melting in your mouth and served on crostini.

I've never made a galette before and to be honest, am not much of a baker. To make the dough, I turned to Alice Water's recipe for galette dough. The secret to making it crispy and flaky is... butter!

Oh my goodness, the galette was wonderfully crispy and browned so beautifully. I served the galette with roasted baby carrots, and I'm pretty sure this was one of the best meals I've made in a long, long time.

Leek and Swiss chard Galette
2 lbs leeks
1/2 bunch of Swiss chard
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1.5 tbsp water
6 sprigs thyme
salt and pepper
1/2 recipe Galette Dough
1 tbsp flour
1 egg yolk, beaten

Trim the roots and green tops from the leeks. Slice the white parts in half lengthwise, and then cut them crosswise  in 1/4" slices. Rinse well in cold water to remove dirt.

Wash and drain the chard.  Discard the thick stems and cut the leaves into 1/2" ribbons.

Heat a large saute pan large enough to hold the leeks and chard over medium heat. Add butter and water. Once butter has melted, add leeks and thyme and season with salt and pepper. Stir well and cook, covered, until leeks are almost tender, about 7-8 minutes. Shake occasionally to prevent sticking and add more water if pan dries out. Add Swiss chard and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally until wilted, about 5-7 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400. Roll out pastry dough into a 12" circle and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle the dough with flour and spread leeks and chard evenly over the dough up to 1" from the edge. Fold the uncovered dough up and over the filling, making a crude shell around the edge. Brush edge with beaten egg yolk. Bake on the lowest shelf of the oven until crust is nicely browned about 30-35 minutes.

Galette dough (from Alice Waters)
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt, cool- not cold and hard but not too soft
1/4 tsp sugar
6 oz unsalted butter
1/3 cup ice water
1 egg yolk, beaten

Combine the flour, salt, and sugar. Cut half the butter into the flour mixture and work it in lightly until dough is roughly the texture of cornmeal. Add the other half of the butter in marble size chunks. Work it into the dough very briefly, leaving the butter in unevenly incorporated bits. Lightly fork in the ice water just until evenly moistened. Divide and gather the dough into two balls, cover separately with plastic wrap, and knead very lightly through the pastic wrap, forming the dough into two even disks.

Refrigerate the dough and let it rest at least 1 hour. It can be kept for a day in the refrigerator and can be frozen for longer. Allow time outside the refrigerator for the dough to warm until it is just soft enough to be rolled out.

Roll each disk out on a floured surface to a 12 inch circle about 1/8" thick. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Complete the tart with a savory or sweet filing, or refrigerate until ready to fill.

Fold the outside inch or so of dough over the filling to enclose it, and brush the outside crust with beaten egg yolk. Bake the tart at 400 on the bottom shelf in the oven. Bake for about 45 minutes, until bottom is browned and crisp.

Makes enough dough for two 10" tarts.

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