Among my favorite summer produce are heirloom cherry tomatoes - with intriguing names and looks to match, they never fail to please the eye or tongue.
I first made this galette when I was visiting my then-fiance (and now-husband of two years) at his house in Baltimore. His kitchen equipment was very limited - I'm talking no microplane, much less a grater, and a few banged up pots and baking sheets - so whenever I visited, our meals had to be rustic. Thankfully he lived near an excellent farmers' market that we loved to visit every Saturday morning, so our weekend meals, however rustic, were made with the best, freshest ingredients. I made lots of pie crusts by hand to showcase the season's fruits and took advantage of the fresh pasta from the Italian market down the block to serve as a solid backdrop for perfect produce. Nothing complicated or requiring anything beyond basic equipment, but always delicious and satisfying.
One weekend at the market, I came across a few pints of blackish-purple cherry tomatoes that were aptly dubbed Black Pearls. The elderly woman who ran the stall that I had come to know over the years always came up with an interesting story for her wares, and she claimed these were the Johnny Depp of cherry tomatoes. To this day, I have no idea what exactly that is supposed to mean (and if you do, please leave a comment with your explanation!), but I do know those tomatoes were phenomenal. They were sweet, juicy, and intensely tomato-y, and they were gorgeous, too.
And they were even better when roasted in the oven atop a flaky, buttery crust and tossed with caramelized shallots. Even if you can't get your hand on a heirloom variety, the high baking temperature caramelizes the sugars in sweet cherry tomatoes and intensifies their tomato flavor, making this an ideal preparation for perfect summer specimens and even those less-than-perfect mid-winter ones.
- Serves 2 as a main course or 4 as a first course
cherry tomatoes, preferably a pretty heirloom variety or a mix thereof
fresh thyme leaves
freshly ground black pepper
- MAKE THE CRUST
- Cut the butter into small cubes. Put the butter in a small bowl and freeze for ~15 minutes.
- In a large bowl, mix the flour and salt. Add the cubed butter and cut it into the flour mixture using either a pastry blender or your fingertips - I prefer the latter. Don’t overwork the mixture – you want some small pieces of butter to remain. Work quickly if you use your hands – you don’t want to melt the butter. If you have warm hands, dip your fingers into ice water and dry them off every 30 seconds or so to keep your hands cold.
- Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the ice water into the butter-flour mixture and gently mix with a fork. Pick up a small amount of the mixture and press it into a ball. If it falls apart, add a teaspoon more of water and mix again. The mixture should hold its shape but should not be sticky.
- Transfer half the dough to a clean work surface and smear the dough forward with the palm of your hand. This creates large streaks of butter that will make your crust extra-flaky. Transfer this dough to a large sheet of plastic wrap, and repeat with the remaining dough mixture.
- Form a disk out of the mixture, wrap it well, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
- MAKE THE FILLING
- Wash and dry the tomatoes. Cut any large tomatoes in half.
- Add the oil to a large sauté pan set over medium heat.
- While the oil is heating, thinly slice the shallots. Add the shallots to the pan along with the salt and thyme and cook, stirring occasionally, until the shallots are lightly golden, 7-8 minutes.
- Add the sugar and continue to cook until the shallots are a deep golden color, about 3-4 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, add the tomatoes, and stir well to combine.
- ASSEMBLE THE GALETTE
- Remove the dough from the fridge and unwrap it, leaving it on the plastic wrap.
- Heat your oven to 425 F. Line a large baking sheet with foil and set it aside.
- Lay a large piece of plastic wrap or parchment paper on top of the dough - this will help prevent both the dough from sticking to the counter and the rolling pin from sticking to the dough without the addition of extra flour.
- Roll the dough out into a large circle that is approximately 1/4” thick. Remove the top layer of plastic wrap/parchment, then pick up the bottom layer (with the dough still on top) and flip the dough onto the baking sheet. Remove the remaining plastic wrap and discard.
- Put the tomato-shallot mixture into the center of the dough, leaving a 2” border all around. Fold the edges of the dough up and over onto the tomato mixture.
- Bake the galette until the dough is golden brown and the tomatoes are well cooked, about 30 minutes. Let it rest for about 5 minutes before slicing and serving.