Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Grilled Veggie (including zucchini) Galette
When my neighbor told me that two zucchini plants are one too many, I thought for sure she was exaggerating. She wasn’t.
As the sun’s rays began to heat the ground last spring, I ambitiously pressed a cluster of squash seeds into freshly mounded dirt. Repeating this process three times in about 5 minutes flat, I felt a great sense of satisfaction. After what seemed like forever, the leathery cotyledons emerged, bold and green. I tended them as a mother tends her new baby, checking on them often, covering them with mulch and watering them daily. I felt the stagnant, beige days of spring slip away as signs of new growth
and life burst forth.
Soon the main leaves rose up, with the confidence of a Broadway star, reaching for the sky. With mixed sadness and resolve I thinned those young plants. It’s for their own good, I reminded myself. One plant per hill, plus one plant just in case. Those four plants thrived in their newly acquired space, stretching their long limbs across the black dirt. In my newfound state of plant parenthood I set tomato, pepper and basil seedlings in the ground, ensuring constant summer companionship for the zucchini plants.
That vegetable bed has grown up; there is a fierce sense of competition out there now as the mature plants vie for space and sun. The zucchini, though down to two plants, are racing neck-to-neck with the Sungold tomato plant for first place. The zucchini plants’ broad, lobed leaves shade the basil and peppers, and hide the tender young fruit as they emerge from among the basal stems. Under the safety of the leaves the slender yellow beacons are almost undetectable at first, but in a matter of days, sometimes even hours it seems, those delicate squash become behemoth, growing to the size of small baseball bats in frighteningly quick succession.
At first I just chopped them raw into salads, or sautéed them with tomatoes to add to our morning egg scramble. But soon I realized that their glory, though prolific, would seem short-lived come fall. The golden fruit deserve a stage on which to shine their youthful exuberance. In my new favorite cookbook, The Farm to Table Cookbook by Ivy Manning, her recipe for Grilled Vegetable Galette serves that purpose well. The rustic crust, with a slight crunch of cornmeal, underscores the relaxed feeling of an August night. Combining delicate squash with mushrooms and roasted red peppers (I omitted the eggplant), all on a bed of creamy cheese, brings out the vegetables’ flavor in the simplest and most beautiful way. Her book has become my constant summer cooking companion – and a source of great recipes to tuck into the basket of summer squash that I am taking to my neighbor.
Grilled Vegetable Galette
For the Crust:
1 cup all purpose flour (I used pastry flour)
¼ cup fine ground cornmeal
1 tsp sugar
½ tsp salt
7 tbsp cold unsalted butter (I used half butter, half vegetarians shortening)
3 tbsp full fat plain yogurt
¼ cup cold water
For the Filling:
1 medium eggplant, sliced into ½ inch thick rounds (I did not use)
1 cup olive oil, divided
salt and pepper
6 ounces zucchini, sliced at an angle ½ inch thick
1 medium Portobello mushroom
4 oz soft cheese such as Havarti or Fontina
1 cup roasted bell peppers
1 egg yolk
1 tsp water
1. Put flour, cornmeal, sugar and salt and butter into a food processor or mixing bowl. Pulse or work in butter with pastry blender until the butter is the size of course gravel, or small peas. In a small bowl, mix the yogurt and ice water, then add to flour mixture. Pulse 4 or 5 times until just mixed. Squeeze dough into a ball, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 2 hours.
2. Preheat the grill. Scrape black quills from underside of mushroom. Brush vegetables liberally with oil, then sprinkle with salt and pepper and grill at about 400 degrees until they are translucent and/or soften. Set aside.
3. Preheat oven to 375. Remove dough from fridge and let rest about 5 minutes. On a lightly floured parchment, roll out dough to about a 12-inch round. It doesn’t have to be perfect and shouldn’t be overworked! Transfer parchment and dough to baking sheet.
4. Cut cheese into thin slices and place in center of dough, leaving a 2-inch border around edges. Top with peppers, squash, mushroom slices and eggplant. Bring edges of dough up, folding and pressing to overlap. The galette should not look perfect; think rustic! Do not overwork dough.
5. Whisk egg yolk with water and a pinch of salt. Brush evenly on dough and bake until golden brown, about 40-45 minutes. Serve hot or at room temperature.