Butternut Squash Leek Galette

There’s some recipes I forget about for the better part of the year, but suddenly find myself coming back to wondering, “where have you been?”  And then, I can’t imagine anything more satisfying.  No surprise that I”m suddenly drawn to this warm, savory tart:  It’s inextricably married in my mind to the gentle chill that’s insinuating itself into the morning air, the burnished colors of autumn leaves, and the warmth of the indoors in the increasingly darker evenings.

Butternut Squash Leek Galette (2 of 8)

It’s a recipe I’ve been making since finding it in Gourmet several years ago (obviously–Gourmet’s demise is no longer a recent event).  I’ve even used it as a launching pad for other dishes but haven’t yet blogged it.  It’s time.

Butternut Squash Leek Galette (1 of 8)

What’s great about this recipe is that all of its component parts can be done in advance thus making it, with a bit of advance planning, a fast weeknight meal.  Or, even with no advance planning–the wait time is manageable even when you don’t start until 6pm (which is about when I am able to get going).  I made the dough and let it chill while I roasted the squash and sautéed the leeks.  (You could do any, or all, of these steps a day or two before).  The vegetables were removed from heat and allowed to cool just enough, after which I crumbled in a log of goat cheese with the tines of my fork.   The pastry dough was removed from the fridge, rolled out and filled.


Edges folded over casually rather than fussily, and the pie was slid into the already warm oven.  I was enjoying a flaky, savory-sweet slice (followed by another) just an hour later.


Butternut Squash Leek Galette

  • For pastry:
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 tablespoon chopped sage leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 4 to 6 tablespoons ice-cold water
  • Cream or half-and-half
  • For filling
  • 1 (2-pound) butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 2- by 1/4-inch slices (4 cups)
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 leeks (white and pale green parts only), thinly sliced crosswise
  • 6 ounces soft mild goat cheese, crumbled
Make dough:
  1. Pulse flour, butter, sage, and sea salt in a food processor until the butter is incorporated and the mixture resembles cornmeal. With the motor running, drizzle in ice water and pulse until it just forms a ball. (The motor’s sound will change as this happens. Do not overwork dough, or pastry will be tough.) Gently press dough into a disk and chill, wrapped in plastic wrap, until firm, at least 1 hour.
Make filling while dough chills:
  1. Preheat oven to 500°F with rack in middle.
  2. Toss squash with sea salt and 1 Tbsp oil and arrange in 1 layer in a 17-by 12-inch shallow baking pan. Roast, stirring once halfway through roasting, until golden brown on edges and undersides, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove squash from oven and reduce oven temperature to 375°F.
  3. Meanwhile, wash leeks, then cook in the 2 tablespoons of butter and a pinch of salt over medium heat, partially covered, stirring occasionally, until tender, 10 to 15 minutes. (Try not to let the leeks brown, you just want them to soften). Transfer to a large bowl to cool slightly.
  4. Add squash, goat cheese, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and toss gently.
Make galette:
  1. Lightly flour a surface and place the dough on top. Flip the dough over (so that both sides have a light dusting of flour) and roll out into a 13-inch round. Some ragged edges are fine. Transfer to a baking sheet (you can use the edge of the baking sheet to gently de-stick any dough from the surface and then slide it on.
  2. Arrange filling in an even layer in center of dough, leaving a 2- to 3-inch border. Fold dough in on itself to cover outer rim of filling, pleating dough as necessary.
  3. Brush pastry with cream (I just pour the cream into a shallow dish and dip my fingers in, then “fingerpaint”).
  4. Bake galette until crust is cooked through and golden on edges, 35 to 45 minutes. Cool on baking sheet on a rack 10 minutes before serving.

While [url href=”http://threecleversisters.com/2011/07/22/perfect-pie-crust-by-hand/”%5DI like making my crust by hand[/url], in this case I took the easy way out–in part because I figured the blades of the food processor would finely distribute flecks of sage throughout the dough more uniformly than if I tried to chop the herbs myself. Dried sage, on the other hand, being so fragile as it is, probably would crumble quickly and distribute itself easily, even by hand.

The dough can be chilled up to 1 day. The filling can be made 1 day ahead and chilled, covered.

Whole Wheat Linguine with Leeks and Parsley

If you’ve been here a while, you know that as much as I love  playing with new and unusual ingredients, I also can’t make too big a production about things most days. While I do try to cook my meals “from scratch,” I don’t take that to mean anything onerous.  Nope–I need something simple that I can pull together quickly.  Arrive home, get it started, play with my kids and put them to bed, then finish up my dinner and eat.  At times I have to log back into work after that.

So a big meal with lots of fanfare isn’t going to happen most nights.  Since I’m usually just cooking for myself, who do I have to impress? If just myself, then good enough.

There can be a lot of exaggeration in food websites when we try to convey the tastes and aromas of a dish through words, or cajole a reader to trust some random amorphous blogger with feeding their family.  And with that, while I’m not going so far as to call it full-contact food blogging (something like my family’s “full contact Jeopardy” screenings), you can sometimes get the feeling that every dish you read about is the non plus ultra, the dish that will change your life, the meal you must eat for your life to have meaning.

Whole Wheat Linguine with Leeks and Parsley (3 of 3)

So even though I’ve been making this dish for ages, I’ve never actually written it up.  It was just too everyday, run of the mill I thought.  You know, just another pasta recipe.  And all you do is saute leeks with a few other ingredients and mix with pasta.  And the coup de grace is nothing more than tossing a big ol’ handful of chopped fresh parsley on top.  Yes, parsley.  Not freshly picked  basil or oregano or French tarragon, but boring old parsley–so pedestrian that it was abundant even when no one was telling you that using dried herbs was anathema.

So, maybe this doesn’t qualify under Generally Accepted Blogging Principles as “Blog-Worthy,” but it’s a real lifesaver for me sometimes–if I have too many leeks that are starting to lose their perkiness (seems to happen a lot), if I just need something I can throw together quickly without too much effort (mental or otherwise), or if I just want a clean, bright pasta dish that’s not too heavy.

And it works together well:  I love how the silky leeks and the astringent parsley blend with whole wheat pasta.  You actually want to use whole wheat pasta because, for whatever reason, it tastes so much better than regular pasta here.  I’ll admit I usually reach for the regular refined stuff, and the fact that I don’t want to is just one more plus about this combination.

Fast, easy, and I even get to feel virtuous.   I guess I did impress myself.

Whole Wheat Linguine with Leeks and Parsley (2 of 3)

Whole Wheat Linguine with Leeks and Parsley adapted from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything

  • 4-6 medium leeks
  • 3T butter or olive oil
  • 2 dried chiles, or 1/2t (or more) chile flakes
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 3/4lb (or amount desired) whole wheat linguine
Cut each leek almost in half lengthwise, leaving the root intact.  Fan the halves open and wash under running water to remove any sand.  Slice the washed halves crosswise (slices about 1/4″ thick) to roughly chop.
Set a pot of water to bring to a boil.
Heat the olive oil or butter over medium low.  Add the chile and saute for one minute, then add the leeks.  When the leeks have begun to color (about five minutes) add the minced garlic.  Season with salt and pepper. Continue cooking until the leeks are soft.  Cook the leeks over gentle heat, their mellow flavor is best if you don’t allow them to crisp.
While the leeks are cooking, chop your parsley.
Cook the linguine and drain.  Once the leeks are done, remove the chiles and stir the leek mixture together with the pasta.  Right before serving, stir in the parsley.    (You might want to add more freshly ground pepper which complements the flavors nicely).

Leek and Celery Pie

When I lived for a summer in Sarajevo, one of my favorite things was the local “fast food.”  Enjoying cevapi  (kebabs made with ground lamb meat) with hot charred bread on a warm summer evening in the old town center of Bascarsija was only made better when followed by a scoop of ice cream or a selection from a stunning array of baklavas.  But for a meal on the go–breakfast, lunch, or dinner–the burek shops had you covered.

Leek and Celery Pie (2 of 2)

You have had something similar to burek if you’ve ever had a spanakopita (the Greek version) or a borek (the Turkish name).  You could even stretch the definition a bit to include a Viennese apple strudel.  The idea is the same, regardless of the language:  a filling of meat, vegetables, or cheese, wrapped in flaky layers of phyllo dough, butter as the glue holding it all together.  I usually went for the spinach or cheese versions–no surprise there–sometimes the meat, and once even the potato pie.  (But to be honest, none of it is exactly what I’d call diet food).

As you know, I’m often drawn to recreating these food memories at home.  And with that, here’s a homemade, burek-inspired savory pie. 
Leek and Celery Pie-drizzled 1

I initially shied away from this recipe when I saw it on epicurious–were they really asking me to make my own phyllo dough?  Let out your breath:  you’re not rolling out 20 paper-thin sheets, but rather just two rectangles.  The dough is extensible and easy to work with, and best of all can be made in advance.  It’s tender thanks to the vinegar and yogurt in the crust, and even becomes flaky as it bakes in the oven. (And if you’re still panicking–or even just pulling a face at the idea of this–just use storebought phyllo dough or puff pastry.  Because you still want to make this).

As for the filling, it’s a mix of many flavors that encourage the best out of each other, and that makes for a remarkably satisfying meal.  Mild, gently cooked leek and celery are boosted by feisty aged cheese, and generous handfuls of chopped parsley, mint, and dill keep it lively.

I’ve made this a few times, each time doing at least one thing the “wrong way,” but always enjoying the final product.  To avoid the effort of chopping, I’ve whirred up the leeks and celery in a food processor, but learned that it’s preferable to do the chopping by hand (sorry).  But you can go electric, just keep in mind that it’s very easy to over-process in the machine, and even if you don’t, using the processor releases a lot of liquid.  You can drain it off before proceeding, as I did, with perfectly good results, but my more “old-fashioned” attempt with a big old knife turned out better. 

I’ve also made this with less than the full 10 cups of leeks, which still yields wonderful, if perhaps slightly less generous, portions.  And I’ve even used a mix of dried and fresh rather than just fresh herbs (horrors!  heresy!), as my planning ahead skills are not always the best.  If you are better than I in this regard, but like me hate shelling out for bunches of herbs that you’ll only use a measly few leaves of, don’t worry: you’ll  get a lot of mileage (and tons of great flavor) out of your purchase here.

Leek and Celery Pie--fresh out of the oven

Leek and Celery Pie adapted from Epicurious

Note:  You will need a jelly roll pan or other rimmed baking pan to make this recipe

Crust (can use store-bought phyllo or puff pastry to similar effect)
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour (a little over 18 ounces) plus additional for dusting 
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup whole-milk yogurt (preferably Greek-style)
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for oiling the bowl
  • 1 tablespoon red-wine vinegar


  • 4-6 lb leeks (white and pale green parts only),
    chopped (about 10 cups–though I’ve used less)
  • 1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 5 large celery ribs, chopped (about 3 cups)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup chopped fresh mint
  • 2/3 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh dill
  • 1/4 lb Greek feta, crumbled (1 cup)
  • 1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (about 1 1/2 oz) or preferably finely grated Kefalotyri if you can find it.
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 large eggs

Make the dough

Stir together flour and salt in a large bowl, then add the water, yogurt, 1/2 cup oil, and vinegar. If you have a stand mixer or food processor, it’s best to use these to very briefly knead the dough so that you don’t inadvertently add too much flour.  You want a soft, smooth, but pliable dough.  If you knead by hand, knead about 4 minutes and resist adding extra flour if at all possible.  Oil a large bowl, form the dough into a ball, and roll it around inside the bowl to coat.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a damp towel and let dough stand at room temperature 1 hour.  This will allow the dough to rest and relax, which will make it far easier to roll out–so it’s definitely worth the wait.  (You can keep the dough up to three days in the fridge before using, tightly covered with plastic or in a plastic bag.)
Make the filling

Wash the leeks and celery well and drain them, if you haven’t already.

Heat 1/4 cup oil in a deep 12-inch heavy skillet or a 5- to 6-quart heavy pot over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking (as you don’t want to brown the vegetables once you add them).  Sauté the leeks and celery with 1/2 teaspoon salt, stirring frequently, until softened and translucent, around 10 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and cool about 10 minutes (stirring will promote cooling).   Note: you can do this step a day in advance and refrigerate but like the dough bring to room temperature before proceeding.

Place your oven rack in the middle position and preheat  the oven to 375°F.

Stir the herbs into the leek and celery mixture along with the cheeses, pepper,  and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt. Lightly beat eggs with remaining 3 tablespoons oil in a small bowl, then stir into leek filling.  (This is why you want to allow the filling to cool slightly–so as not to cook the eggs or prematurely melt the cheese).

Make the pie
Brush baking pan with 2 tablespoons oil.

Divide dough in half and flour a work surface.  Roll out one half on a floured surface into a rectangle about an 1 1/2 to 2 inches wider on all sides than your pan (i.e. if you have a 17 X 12 inch pan, you want to roll out to about 20 X 15 inches at a minimum, or even a bit bigger).   If the dough resists, let it rest about 10 minutes, which will allow the gluten to relax and will result in the dough being more yielding.  Fold your rectangle loosely into quarters and transfer to your pan, then unfold dough and fit into the pan, leaving a 1-inch overhang. Spread the filling evenly in pan.

Roll out remaining dough on floured surface with floured rolling pin into a rectangle about 1 inch wider on all sides than your pan. Lift dough and drape it over filling, leaving it slightly wrinkled. Roll edge of bottom crust over top to
form a rope edge all around pie. Brush top of pie with remaining 2 tablespoons
oil (or drizzle it on and use your fingers to spread the oil out over the surface). Score top crust into serving pieces with a sharp knife.

Bake the pie until golden brown, 50 to 60 minutes.  Allow to cool and serve at room temperature.