I always thought a pie was a pie, it needed a crust, a filling, and a pan to hold the pastry and give it that classic pie shape. Recently I have noticed pictures of a different way to make pie without the iconic pie pan. The rustic functionality of baking a pie on a sheet pan appealed to me. Something about pulling the crust up and around the pie filling seemed more approachable than neatly fitting everything into a dish. These free form pies are called “galettes” and an heirloom tomato galette turned out to be just the thing to turn a selection of sweet summer produce into a show stopping meal.
It all began when my mother asked me to, “bring a substantial vegetarian side dish.” to a family BBQ. An interesting challenge that I happily accepted.
I brainstormed meatless summery foods and substantial side dishes, creating a sort of mental Venn diagram. The summery circle had items like corn on the cob and fruit salad. The substantial circle included baked potatoes or quinoa with beans. Any of this ideas would have been welcome contributions to the meal however, I added a third criteria: whatever I made had to come from ingredients already in my kitchen.
At the time I had a sack of fragrant heirloom tomatoes, a monstrous Walla Walla Sweet onion, and a stocked pantry.
Honestly, I didn’t think piling everything up and baking it would work but I gave the technique a try and the result was an heirloom tomato galette that immediately became one of our favorite summer recipes.
As a novice pie baker I fretted my way through the process of forming the dough (what if it tears?) then preparing the filling (are the slices to thick, too thin, too juicy?). Mercifully, the finished galette was stunning. The combination of pastry and bubbling tomato and onion created an aroma that was instantly mouth watering. I called Mike into the kitchen so we could both stare at my glorious creation while it cooled. Of course, I Instagramed the beautiful pie, then I called my sister to share the news – the logical next step following a major life event.
The initial success has inspired me to revisit the recipe heirloom tomato galette with sweet onions several more times. Each time I became more confident working with the ingredients. Using the same method I experimented with the ingredients adding or adjusting to improve the success and taste. Two of our favorite additions to the basic tomato galette have been pesto spread just on the bottom and a layer of zucchini and summer squash. We also discovered tomato galette makes an exceptional breakfast.
The funny part is, though I was charged with preparing a side dish, this tomato galette with sweet onions has proven itself as a full fledged entree. That first attempt went to the BBQ and though the grilled chicken was perfectly cooked, the meat became the side dish and the vegetarian option took center stage.
Tomato Galette with Sweet Onions
Before we go to the recipe, let’s talk crust: For this hearty galette, you want a sturdy crust, leaning ever so gently toward cracker rather than airy pastry. This method of pie baking creates a different relationship between the crust and filling than a traditionally baked pie. The open top means the flavor and texture of this savory pie changes from bite to bite. The thick slouchy pleats made by folding the crust up and around the filling make little nooks and crannies that perfectly hold the tasty tomato sauce.
More tips for making the perfect tomato galette:
- Avoid very juicy over ripe tomatoes for this recipe. The extra liquid will make the filling leak and the crust soggy.
- Make sure all the ingredients are prepared before rolling out the crust so that the dough stays cool.
- Don’t be shy with the seasonings, salt and pepper are essential for bringing out the sweet onion and tomato flavors.
- When baked the finished crust should be firm enough to make a sharp satisfying sound when tapped.
- Give the flavor even more pizzazz with a drizzle of fresh citrus or white balsamic vinegar just before serving.
- 1 whole wheat pie crust
- ¾ lb. of sweet onion sliced into ¼ inch rounds - Walla Walla Sweets are recommended
- ¾ - 1 lb. tomatoes of any variety, sliced into ¼ inch rounds or thin wedges.
- ¼ cup basil leaves, sliced into ribbons
- 2 oz. of soft goat cheese, plain or with herbs
- generous sprinkles of salt & pepper
- egg wash (1 egg and 1 tablespoon of milk)
- ⅓ cup pesto
- yellow summer squash or zucchini (reduce the amount of tomato and onion proportionately)
- While the crust dough is chilling prepare the vegetables as noted above.
- Preheat oven to 350
- Quickly roll the dough into a circle working from the middle to the edges changing direction with every pass. Work the dough into an 11 inch circle (or roundish shape) it should be about ⅛ of an inch thick.
- Transfer dough to a baking stone or parchment lined baking sheet. Pinch closed and smooth any tears if needed.
- Leaving a 2½ to 3 inch margin all the way around - Layer the ingredients on top of the crust overlapping as needed: onion, sprinkle of seasoning, tomato, seasoning, goat cheese, basil ribbons.
- Bring the crust up and around the filling pleating and pinching as needed. The filling may need to be "hugged" a little to allow more crust to come up the sides. Once all the dough has been pleated it may slouch a bit but it should stay. The cooler the dough the better it will hold its shape.
- Brush the outside of the galette with the egg wash. - This step provides the "wow" factor to the finished pie.
- Bake for 25 -30 minutes until filling is steamy and bubbly. Then increase the temperature to 425 for 5 - 10 additional minutes to give the pie its deep amber color.