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Caramelize shallots and wrap them in dough


Skillet with shallots
This is where the magic happens: Shallots cooked low and slow become sweet
and tender. (Photos: Kathy Morrison)

Recipe: Galette a sweet-savory dish for lunch or a side


I am rich in shallots this weekend, my fragrant harvest from a 4-by-4-foot patch I planted last fall. I usually have one or two shallots in the bin with the onions, but I now have dozens, many sizes.

Before planting something else (I'm thinking winter squash), I wanted to celebrate my shallots with a dish that put them at the center, rather than in the background. I found a galette recipe on the greatbritishchefs.com site than I translated and tweaked for my taste. We devoured it as a light dinner with salad and steamed broccoli, but this galette can go to any meal you'd like.

Using a premade pastry crust speeds the process, but substitute a homemade crust if you prefer. The Pillsbury crusts are great for savory dishes, I've found, but they're a little salty for sweet pies.

Shallots on a cutting board
They're all different sizes, but I grew all these shallots.
And just so you know, shallots caramelized this way are terrific -- they'd make a delicious topping or filling for just about anything: rolled into croissant dough, smeared on bagels, piled onto grilled vegetables,  added to the ultimate grilled cheese sandwich.

Which reminds me: Cheese. The one mistake I made in putting this galette together was my choice of cheese. The original uses goat cheese, but I DID NOT want to make a run to the store. (Surely you understand.) So I grabbed some mozzarella that was in the freezer, a remnant from making stuffed shells. The flavor was perfect, but regular mozzarella congeals as it cools, and the galette became a little chewy at the end.

So use a soft white cheese such as goat cheese, FRESH mozzarella, even regular brick cream cheese. The filling will stay soft and the cheese will add just enough background flavor, while the shallots will shine.

Caramelized shallot galette with cheese
Serves 4 to 6

Galette before it's finished
Pile the ingredients in the middle of the crust.
Ingredients
:

1 refrigerated pie crust,  for a 9-inch pie
1 teaspoon olive oil
At least 1 cup (and up to 2 cups) trimmed and thinly sliced shallots
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
3 tablespoons seasoned bread crumbs, divided
4 to 6 ounces soft white cheese, such as goat cheese, fresh mozzarella or regular cream cheese, diced or cut into thin strips
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves or 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, or to taste
1 egg, beaten, for brushing on pastry

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Remove the pie crust from the refrigerator to allow it to soften. Prepare a baking sheet by covering it with parchment paper or spraying with oil spray.

Heat the oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook, stirring, until they are soft and just starting to turn brown, about 10 minutes. Stir in the white wine vinegar and the brown sugar, and lower the heat. Cook for at least 5 minutes more, then remove from heat and let the shallots cool while you prepare the pastry.
Galette preparation complete
The crust is folded up, then brushed with beaten egg.


Unroll the softened pie crust onto the parchment paper or greased pan. (If you want, flatten the crust a bit more with a rolling pin, but that's not required.) Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of bread crumbs over the center of the crust, leaving a 2-inch border. Sprinkle most of the cheese over the bread crumbs, then spread the shallots over the cheese. Sprinkle the thyme and the rest of the cheese over the shallots, and finish with the last of the bread crumbs.

Fold the border of the pastry up and over the filling, pleating or tucking as you go. Galettes are supposed to be rustic, so don't worry too much how even it is. Brush the pastry with the beaten egg.

Finished galette
Baked and ready to serve.
Bake the galette for 30 minutes, until the crust is golden and you can hear bubbling from the filling. Cool the galette a minute or two. Slice and serve.





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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of March 26:

Sacramento can expect another inch of rain from this latest storm. Leave the sprinklers off at least another week. Temps will dip down into the low 30s early in the week, so avoid planting tender seedlings (such as tomatoes). Concentrate on these tasks before or after this week’s rain:


* Fertilize roses, annual flowers and berries as spring growth begins to appear.


* Knock off aphids with a strong blast of water or some bug soap as soon as they appear.


* Pull weeds now! Don’t let them get started. Take a hoe and whack them as soon as they sprout.


* Prepare summer vegetable beds. Spade in compost and other amendments.


* Prune and fertilize spring-flowering shrubs after bloom.


* Feed camellias at the end of their bloom cycle. Pick up browned and fallen flowers to help corral blossom blight.


* Feed citrus trees, which are now in bloom and setting fruit.


To prevent sunburn and borer problems on young trees, paint the exposed portion of the trunk with diluted white latex (water-based) interior paint. Dilute the paint with an equal amount of cold water before application.

* Cut back and fertilize perennial herbs to encourage new growth.


* Seed and renovate the lawn (if you still have one). Feed cool-season grasses such as bent, blue, rye and fescue with a slow-release fertilizer. Check the irrigation system and perform maintenance. Make sure sprinkler heads are turned toward the lawn, not the sidewalk.


* In the vegetable garden, transplant lettuce and kale.


* Seed chard and beets directly into the ground.


* Plant summer bulbs, including gladiolus, tuberous begonias and callas. Also plant dahlia tubers.


* Shop for perennials. Many varieties are available in local nurseries and at plant events. They can be transplanted now while the weather remains relatively cool.

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