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.

Simple Asparagus Tart with Tarragon

I have been (mostly) patiently waiting for asparagus season to begin.  Mainly because it means that spring is here, and after this New England winter it couldn’t come soon enough.  But also because, even though I love asparagus, I don’t like buying it off-season because of the price tag.  (Yes, my pocketbook is my main motivator, even though I try to be “virtuous” about eating what’s in season.  But, well, it gets us to the same place). 

Someday I’d love to have asparagus growing in the backyard:  I’m fascinated by the fact that it can grow up to 4 inches in a day, which is possibly as close to instant gratification as you can get in vegetable gardening.  However, as this would mean my two boys would have severely curtailed room to run around, it’s an ambition unlikely to materialize.  “Sorry kids!  no place to play, but more vegetables!”  I don’t think I could sell that.

And so, even though I am a planner and like to have some endpoint in mind when I buy fresh produce (for fear of it otherwise malingering unused), this weekend the price was right and I nabbed my first bunch of asparagus of 2011.  I was keenly aware that I needed to figure out what to do with it as quickly as possible:  asparagus are a bit like flowers–the stems should be plunged in a glass of water as if they were a bouquet, then kept cold in the fridge.  (The setup gets tall so it can be a little tricky to find room in the fridge; and at least in my case comes perilously close to tipping and flooding the trays, which is all the more reason to use it up ASAP!) 

We celebrated Easter dinner with relatives (we basically tumbled in off the plane back from our trip to Seattle), so the asparagus was scheduled for Monday night dinner.  I ruminated on several classic preparations.  Steamed and served with a sauce, roasted, maybe with a sprinkling of parmesan?  Great side dishes, but not substantial enough for a satisfying dinner.  The daintily named asparagus mimosa?  More of a brunch choice than Monday night dinner (not that I’m above breakfast food for dinner, not me).  Then, in an a-ha moment on the train home, I realized that a spring tart with a simple olive-oil crust would transform my asparagus stalks into a light, but filling, meal.  (Maybe my long commute isn’t time sucked into a void, after all).

Now, I realize that whipping up a tart on the spur of the moment after work doesn’t sound like the brightest idea if you want to eat anytime before 10pm, but by using an olive oil crust I avoided the need for first chilling the dough and then chilling the rolled out crust (one hour minimum).  Mixing whole wheat and white flour together with olive oil added even more flavor and a rustic touch; adding tarragon to the dough celebrated the return of spring by imparting grassy, fresh notes.  And I added Gruyère because, at least for me, everything is better with Gruyère.  (I know this cheese is a bit of an indulgence:  as it’s not a dominant flavor you could swap in other types of Swiss or white cheese).

While there are a few separate steps to this recipe, each is quick and manageable and they coordinate efficiently.  Make the dough and the filling while the asparagus blanches and the oven preheats.  (And by blanche, I don’t really mean you have to bring a huge pot of water to boil.  I add a layer of water to the bottom of a large skillet and then gently simmer the asparagus.  Have no fear of waterlogged asparagus, as any excess moisture will bake out in the dry heat of your oven).  By the time your stalks have just started becoming tender and turned bright green, you’re ready to bring it all together.  Assembly is fun: lining up the prepared stalks up and down across the egg and cream mixture seems too easy to produce such an elegant result.  The savory filling puffs up as it bakes, while the stems nestle deeper into the pillow of custard.

Remember that asparagus can be a little resistant to a regular butter knife, so use a serrated knife and slice in gently when serving to preserve the good looks of your tart from pan to plate.

 You might remember seeing this crust in our “Spanikopitart” here, (inspired by Clotilde’s recipe here).

Asparagus Tart with Tarragon


  • Generous 2 cups (8.8 ounces or 250 g) flour (use a mixture of whole wheat and white)
  • 1t salt
  • 1t tarragon
  • 1/4c (60mL) olive oil
  • 1/2c (120mL) water


  • one bunch asparagus
  • 2.5 oz (70g) Gruyère
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 c (180mL) half and half, or a mixture of cream and milk (I used a 1/2 c of milk and 1/4c cream)
  • salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 350F.  Pour about 1/4 of an inch (2.5cm) of water into a skillet and heat over medium high.  Snap the ends off the asparagus (bend the cut ends and there will be a natural point where they break off the main stalk).  Place in the water and bring to a simmer, then adjust the heat to maintain gentle bubbling just below a boil.  When the asparagus starts to get tender (but is not fully cooked) remove from heat and drain.

While the asparagus cooks, stir together the dry ingredients of the crust (including the tarragon), then add the oil and water.  Dump onto a floured work surface, and knead for a moment to bring the dough together.  Form into a disc and then roll it out.  Place the rolled out crust into a 10 or 11 inch (40-45 cm) tart mold.  Set the mold over a baking sheet (this will catch any spills and keep your oven, floor, and workspace cleaner).

Shred the cheese and sprinkle half over the crust.  Stir the milk, eggs, salt, and pepper together, then pour over the cheese, then sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.  Arrange the asparagus over the filling.  It will not look completely full but remember it will puff up in the oven.

Bake the tart on the middle rack of the oven for 40 minutes (but check at 30 minutes).  The filling does not need to be browned to be done; rather remove it when it has set and puffed and it is not jiggling in the middle.  If you test it with a toothpick, it will come out clean, but still oily (from the cheese) and wet.  Again, this does not mean it is underdone (in contrast to a cake).

Enjoy warm, as the custard will deflate as it cools.

Modern Baker Challenge: Gruyere, Scallion, and Walnut Tart

Marie’s latest post on the Modern Baker Challenge was a gentle reminder that I have been delinquent in posting (and, let’s face it, even making) recipes from the current chapter that participants are meant to be baking from, savory tarts.  In fact, all of us have fallen behind, Marie’s valiant efforts notwithstanding.  Of course, it’s no surprise that we’d be, well, slightly less motivated with resepct to this chapter.  Most importantly, where is the sugar?  But a little more legitimately, some of my lack of motivation has to do with the fact that many of the recipes in this chapter are more summery in nature–while I am certainly missing heavy ripe tomatoes and firm fresh zucchini, anything I were to make with their glum wintery alter egos would just be disappointing.  

But there are some recipes in this chapter that are just right for when it’s been cold enough that anything in the 40s is cause to rejoice.  So I settled on Nick Malgieri’s recipe for a Gruyere, Scallion, and Walnut tart.  I modified it slightly, making two mini-tarts, and using dough leftover from a Julia Child leek quiche that I recently made.   Just enough for a rather rich dish, and given how much gruyere costs, a good way to experiment before commiting to a full recipe.  (Yes, it’s quite handy to have “cracked the code,” as it were, to figure out how many mini-tarts equal a 10″ tart.  Six, by the way, just to recap).

What I liked best about this recipe is how easy it is to break down into a simple formula (which then could be easily varied upon)–sprinkle some cheese and an aromatic vegetable, and nuts on the base of the tart (here, of course, Gruyere, walnut and sauteed scallion), then beat egg and cream together and pour on top.  

My two tarts puffed up dramatically in the oven,  into a golden, barely browned dome, and just as quickly deflated as they cooled.  To ensure that you can present your tart with panache, but still fit it into your schedule, have all the components ready beforehand, and simply assmeble and bake at the last minute.  (I usually do this with quiche–make the filling and the crust the day before, then bake the following day).  You may have to add a few minutes to the cooking time to account for the chill you’ve put on your ingredients while they rested in the fridge, but I think a little longer wait time is a small price to pay for a freshly baked tart.

It’s also worth taking the time to toast the walnuts beforehand.  I tell you this as someone who did not do so (Do as I say, kids, not as I do!)  My weeknight cooking, much like many others’, is a scramble to get things in the oven while catching up with two very little but very rambunctious boys after a day at work.  Things slip, steps are inadvertently skipped.  Not perfect, but I can tell you that if you do not toast the walnuts beforehand, they get a bit of a rubbery taste and texture as they bake into the tart.  On the other hand, “life happens” (to propogate another cliche) and these transgressions aside, it was still much better than a microwave meal, fresh from…the freezer case at the grocery store?

My husband enjoyed this just as much the next day when he took his mini-tart to work.  (Thanks to his job, his dinner portion often ends up as the next day’s lunch).  I like to think that, presentation aside, having a homemade tart at midday makes up a little for a late night before.  Enjoy the little luxuries you can, right?

Modern Baker Challenge: Roasted Pepper and Goat Cheese Tart

The Three Clever Sisters have had a hard time keeping up with the Modern Baker challenge. Usually before a chapter we busily email eachother tagging the recipes we want to make and making sure we get first dibs. Well, it wasn’t so on this chapter. I’m not sure what happened, but (I think) I may be the only one that cooked this one.
Who wouldn’t want to make something that called for almost three tubs of goat cheese. The woman at the counter definitely quizzed me on why I was buying so much. I replied “for a recipe” but I then thought afterwards to myself “Why is it so bad to buy three tubs?”
This is the part that is going to make food bloggers everywhere cringe. I didn’t make the crust. I’m sorry. I didn’t. I don’t want to lie and it be blatently obvious that it wasn’t done. I knew in the back of my head that if I bought the crust then I would actually make this recipe. If I had to make it from scratch, well, you never know with me. I would have found an excuse.
I actually used my toaster oven to roast my peppers. This took a while and I thought after they came out that perhaps I should have kept them in longer. It was easy to get most of the skin off (the recipe said it would just sort of fall off) but the bottom part of the pepper was the hardest and I think I could have missed a spot of two. oops.
If you don’t read carefully you can totally miss the part of the recipe that says “refrigerate for up to three days”-yeah. Didn’t see that the first two times I browsed this recipe. No problem. Waited a couple of days to really let the garlic marinate with the peppers.
After that it was ridiculously easy. Really I’m assuming the hardest part is making the crust and I didn’t do that. So I’m embarressed to say after peeling the peppers you just put them in the crust with the eggs and cheese. Bam. Done. The convection oven was my friend this time. I repeat this time. Really quick. The recipe said that it would take 30 minutes and my oven took maybe 15 so that was nice.

The first layer of cheese and peppers.

Hopefully this can be of use to other people in my family. I know mom can eats logs of eggs so hopefully this quiche will be to her liking!

My husband thought it was de-lish..