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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
Take advantage of these dry but crisp conditions. It’s time to get out the rake!
* Rake leaves away from storm drains and keep gutters clear.
* Fallen leaves can be used for mulch and compost. Chop up large leaves with a couple of passes with a lawn mower.
* Prune non-flowering trees and shrubs while they’re dormant. Without their foliage, trees are easier to prune.
* Rake and remove dead leaves and stems from dormant perennials.
* Make sure to take frost precautions with new transplants and sensitive plants. Mulch, water and cover tender plants in the late afternoon to retain warmth.
* Succulent plants are at particular risk if temperatures drop below freezing. Don’t water succulents before frost; cover instead. Use cloth sheets, not plastic. Make sure to remove coverings during the day.
* Clean and sharpen garden tools before storing for the winter.
* Brighten the holidays with winter bloomers such as poinsettias, amaryllis, calendulas, Iceland poppies, pansies and primroses.
* Keep poinsettias in a sunny, warm location. Water thoroughly. After the holidays, feed your plants monthly so they'll bloom again next December.
* Just because it rained doesn't mean every plant got watered. Give a drink to plants that the rain didn't reach, such as under eaves or under evergreen trees. Also, well-watered plants hold up better to frost than thirsty plants.
* Plant garlic (December's the last chance -- the ground is getting cold!) and onions for harvest in summer.
* Bare-root season begins. Plant bare-root berries, kiwifruit, grapes, artichokes, horseradish and rhubarb. Beware of soggy soil. It can rot bare-root plants.
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