Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Bounty Busters: Winter Vegetable Galette

Oh, those winter vegetables. Stodgy, vitamin-packed, built to last. And abundant as winter darkness. I enjoy all their flavors (okay, so I’m still working on my relationship with beets), admire their ability to remain edible after weeks (yes, weeks) in the refrigerator, and love the challenge of trying to use them all in different ways.

I like roots, tubers, squash and brassicas roasted, stewed, souped, with pasta, with grains, in salads, and, as I did recently, shredded and baked in a pie. I love this recipe for a butternut squash and feta cheese pie with a phyllo crust from Cooking Light magazine (although I use melted butter in place of the nonstick cooking spray), and thought I could do something similar with more vegetables. I also wanted to change some of the flavors to better compliment the vegetables I chose, so I used cheddar cheese, caramelized onions, and lots of grainy mustard.

This is a great recipe for using up odds and ends, or veggies that haven’t inspired you, or stuff that you’re just getting tired of because there’s just so darn much of it. (I haven’t reached that stage quite yet.) I ended up using a carrot, a piece of a small butternut squash, a chunk of leftover turnip, and a parsnip. Parsnips are the ones that look like albino carrots or weird icicles from a Tim Burton film. They’re super sweet and taste like a carrot gone overboard, with a little bit of a parsley tang. Since the carrots, parsnip and squash are so sweet, I liked the zing of the turnip to contrast with them and give the dish a bit more pep. You could use whatever autumn and winter vegetables you like, but I would recommend a mix of sweet and sharp. If it’s just sweet, you might as well be making pumpkin pie.

I made a pastry with a combination of all purpose flour and whole wheat pastry flour. You could use any kind of pastry you like, including a store-bought pie crust, or even phyllo dough or puff pastry. You also don’t have to make this into a pair of free-form galettes, but could probably put it in a pie or tart pan or make it into individual pasty-like turnovers. You would most likely need to adjust the baking time. You also do not have to cover the whole pie filling with the crust as I did. I think it might be more visually appealing to allow some of the filling to be exposed in the center.

Since I made two pies with this recipe, I wrapped one up and froze it to eat later. This worked very well, and I’ve included freezing and reheating instructions in the recipe below. Since it the leftover pie did freeze so well, I now see this recipe as a way of preserving the bounty of the late fall and early winter. Perhaps I wouldn’t be in the mood to munch on winter vegetables in, say, April, but I’m thinking a reheated pie might taste mighty fine on a busy day in the middle January.

Whole Wheat Pastry Recipe

1 ¼ cups all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2/3 cup ice water, or more as needed

1. Combine all purpose flour, whole wheat pastry flour and salt in a large bowl. Sift together or stir well with a whisk to combine.

2. Add butter pieces and cut into the mixture using a pastry blender, knives or your hands, until mixture is crumbly and no chunks of flour-coated butter are larger than peas.

3. Add ½ cup ice water. Gently work the water into the flour and butter mixture until most of the flour is moistened and the dough holds together when squeezed. Add more water 1 tablespoon at a time if necessary. Try not to overwork the dough, and do not knead it.

4. When the dough has come together, divide it in half (I weigh it to get an accurate split). Form each half into a ball, then flatten in to a smooth disk. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and chill until ready to use. Dough is best when chilled at least 15 minutes. Dough can be made at least a day ahead. Dough can also be frozen if well-wrapped in a freezer bag. Thaw thoroughly in refrigerator before using.

Makes 2 crusts approximately 10 ounces each.

Winter Vegetable Galettes with Cheddar, Mustard and Caramelized Onions

4 cups peeled shredded fall and winter vegetables, such as winter squash, parsnips, carrots, rutabagas, turnips celeriac, sweet potatoes, etc.
¼ cup bulgur wheat
¾ teaspoon salt, divided
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
¾ pound yellow onions (about 2 medium), peeled, halved, and thinly sliced
3 ounces shredded sharp or extra sharp cheddar cheese (about 1 cup)
2 tablespoons coarse-grained mustard
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 recipe Whole Wheat Pastry (or pastry of your choice)
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water (egg wash), optional

1. Preheat the oven to 375 F. Combine the shredded vegetables, bulgur, ½ teaspoon salt and pepper in a large bowl. Let stand 30 minutes.

2. To make the caramelized onions, heat the olive oil in a large skillet with a lid over medium heat. Add the onions and sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon salt. Cook over medium heat until sizzling and beginning to turn translucent, stirring occasionally.

3. Cover the onions and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook 15 to 20 minutes or until very brown and soft. If the onions are browning too quickly, reduce the heat further. Remove the lid and continue to cook if there is a lot of liquid. Set aside to cool slightly.

4. Add the cheese, mustard, garlic and caramelized onions to the shredded vegetable mixture and mix well.

5. Roll out one disk (1/2 recipe) of the pastry dough into a 12 inch circle. Transfer the dough to one side of a large baking sheet. Place ½ of the vegetable mixture in the center of the dough circle. Pull of the edges of the dough and fold over the filling. Try not to stretch the dough. The dough does not need to completely cover the filling. Repeat with the second half of the dough and the remaining filling in the remaining space on the baking sheet. Brush both galettes with egg wash if desired.

6. Bake at 375 F 40-45 minutes or until the crust is crisp and lightly browned. Let stand 10 minutes. Cut into wedges and serve.

Makes 2 pies for a total of 6-8 main dish or 10-12 side dish servings.

The baked pies can also be frozen. Wrap in aluminum foil and freeze in a zip-top freezer bag. Thaw completely in the refrigerator. Unwrap and bake in a preheated 375 F oven on a baking sheet about 20 minutes or until crust is crisp and filling is heated through.

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