Recipe: Flexible recipe uses cheese, pre-made crust
They're late in the season but still delicious: Juliet tomatoes, ready for roasting.
The tomato plants are disappearing from the community garden I belong to. One here, one there, then whole plots of them -- their luscious fruits now canned or frozen or just memory. It's nearly fall, and many gardeners are done with summer.
Of course the heat wave killed off many summer vegetable plants, and in others it halted the will to reproduce. Still, some of us stubbornly keep our plants in place. How could I tear out something that looks so healthy? For now, the Juliet tomato plant survives, along with a few others, and I get to enjoy her meaty tomatoes that are even more precious now that they are dwindling.
The recipe here is an excellent way to use any late-summer veggies. And thank goodness the weather has cooled down, because roasting the veggies first is a must, to concentrate the flavors and let the excess liquid cook off.
Use what you have: zucchini, peppers, eggplant, scallions, garlic -- and of course tomatoes. The cheese and herbs are also flexible: Goat cheese or Gruyere instead of mozzarella, for example, and thyme or oregano instead of basil. I included a cup of cubed rotisserie chicken, because I had it, but that is optional.
Roasted summer vegetable galette
4 to 6 cups summer vegetables, such as tomatoes, zucchini or peppers, halved or cut into 1-inch pieces
1 premade refrigerated pastry crust, allowed to sit out at room temperature for a few minutes
1 cup cubed cooked chicken or ham (optional)
3 or 4 scallions, trimmed and sliced
4 ounces fresh mozzarella or other soft or semi-soft cheese, such as goat cheese or grated Gruyere
2 to 3 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs, such as basil or parsley, or 1 teaspoon dried herbs
Freshly grated black pepper
Grated Parmesan cheese
Water or cream for brushing crust, optional
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spread the tomatoes and/or other veggies on a quarter-sheet baking pan. Drizzle olive oil over it, and stir, making sure all the veggies get a little. Roast for 20-30 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Some brown is fine.
Remove from oven and allow to cool. Some of the veggies may give off a lot of liquid. Pour that off and discard or use it to make vegetable broth.
When the veggies are mostly cool, scrape them into a large measuring cup. You should have at least 3 cups of roasted vegetables. (You may need to pour out more liquid here.)
Reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees. Unroll the premade pastry onto a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. If the pastry is getting too soft to work with, pop the pan into the freezer for a few minutes. In a large bowl, combine the veggies, the scallions, the chicken or ham (if using), and salt and pepper to taste.
Distribute the basil and dabs of fresh mozzarella (or whatever you're using) over the pastry round, leaving about 1-1/2 inches open around the edge. Mound the galette filling over the herbs and cheese.
Fold the pastry edge up, pleating it as you go. This is a rustic tart, so don't worry about perfection.
Sprinkle some Parmesan over the filling. If desired, brush the crust edges with water or cream.
Bake 25 minutes or until the crust is golden and the filling is bubbling.
Allow to cool at least 10 minutes before serving. Serve warm or at room temperature.
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For week of Dec. 3:
Make the most of gaps between raindrops. This is a busy month!
* Windy conditions brought down a lot of leaves. Make sure to rake them away from storm drains.
* Use those leaves as mulch around frost-tender shrubs and new transplants.
* Rake and remove dead leaves and stems from dormant perennials.
* 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 eves or under evergreen trees. Also, well-watered plants hold up better to frost than thirsty plants.
* Prune non-flowering trees and shrubs while they're dormant.
* 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.
* Plant one last round of spring bulbs including daffodils, crocuses, hyacinths, anemones and scillas. Get those tulips out of the refrigerator and into the ground.
* This is also a good time to seed wildflowers such as California poppies.
* Plant such spring bloomers as sweet pea, sweet alyssum and bachelor buttons.
* Late fall is the best time to plant most trees and shrubs. This gives them plenty of time for root development before spring growth. They also benefit from fall and winter rains.
* Lettuce, cabbage and broccoli also can be planted now.
* Plant garlic and onions.
* 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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