When the sun comes out, it’s time for a picnic. Unless, that is, the sun has come out after three or four days of intermittent—and yet, somehow, also very much persistent—rain showers, in which case you might want to wait a couple more days before you lay out your picnic blanket and unpack your meal, lest the wet ground provide an unexpectedly damp element to your outdoor eating enjoyment. Or, if you are the clever type, you could always just pack a waterproof tarp along with your picnic, which would allow you to sit on the ground anywhere you wished without running the risk of making your pants look like they suffered an unfortunate accident.
This, of course, is something I learned only recently. I don’t know why it never occurred to me to pack a waterproof tarp as a picnic blanket, but I can only presume that my ignorance was derived solely from my insistence on pretending that it is always going to be warmer here than it actually is. So this is how it came to be that last month (June, which is never never warm here, and I know that, I really do), during my son’s preschool end-of-the-year picnic, when it rained cats and dogs all day long, I found myself sitting beneath a very large tree, propped upon a narrow exposed root that was miraculously free from moisture, and eating what I could only think of as the most perfect picnic food in the world, during the most imperfect picnic weather imaginable.
As evidenced by recent events on this website (and here, where I also regularly share recipes and excitement about food), I have a thing about galettes. (I also have a thing about tarts and pies, but I am sure you will hear more about that as time goes on.) Galettes, much like tarts and pies, have the capability of being either sweet or savory, but there is just something a bit more casual about them.
Perhaps it is the lack of special equipment required to make them, as one is not required to own any specific type of pan or plate in order to whip one together, or maybe it is the rustic presentation that defines them (you just roll out the dough, place whatever you desire in the middle, then fold everything up), but lately, when I think of buttery crusts and dreamy fillings, my mind immediately wanders over to galettes. Call it the laziness of summer (if we ever, ahem, actually experience summer this year), but a galette just seems so laid back, so willing to be eaten without the aid of silverware. Or a plate. In fact, the only thing you need to enjoy this galette is a set of taste buds to appreciate the light, flakey crust and the creamy lemon chevre that serves as a base for tender roasted asparagus. You’ll be so blissfully satisfied, you won’t even notice that right now it’s mid-July, 60 degrees, and raining. Okay, maybe you’ll still notice, but I swear this delicious galette will make you just a tiny bit less upset about it.
Roasted Asparagus and Lemon Chevre Galette
This method of grating butter into dry ingredients is a nearly foolproof method of achieving super flakey dough. Grating the butter while frozen makes it almost impossible to overwork and toughen the dough while incorporating the butter, and, when you add your ice water to moisten the ingredients, you’ll find that things adhere together nicely without ever becoming gummy and running the risk of making your dough tough.
1 cup all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon sugar
6 tablespoons butter (¾ of a stick), frozen as a stick and NOT cubed or sliced
3-4 tablespoons ice water
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and sugar. Using the large holes on a box grater, grate the frozen butter over the flour mixture, covering as much of the surface of the flour as possible (meaning, try not to let the butter pile up too high in one place). Using your hands, quickly toss the butter and flour together to distribute the butter through out the bowl. 1 tablespoon at a time, add 3 tablespoons of ice water while gently turning and mixing the dough with your hands. If the dough is not coming together, add the last tablespoon while continuing to mix the dough. When the dough forms a rough ball, turn the dough out onto a large piece of plastic wrap. Form the dough into a round disc, tightly wrap it in plastic wrap, then refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
4 ounces softened goat cheese
1 tsp freshly grated or chopped lemon zest
1/8 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 pound asparagus, tough ends trimmed off
2 tablespoons olive oil
juice of half a lemon
salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a small bowl, combine goat cheese, lemon zest, thyme, and salt and pepper to taste. Mix together and set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine asparagus, olive oil, lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste. Gently toss asparagus until it is evenly coated with the liquid.
Roll the disc of galette dough into a 12-inch round. Transfer the dough to the parchment-lined baking sheet. Spread the chevre mixture over the surface of the galette dough, leaving a 1 1/2 to 2-inch border at the edges. Arrange the asparagus over the top of the chevre, alternating the placement of tips and ends as best you can, and leaving uncovered the border at the edge. Rotating the galette, fold the border up over the filling, pinching and crimping shut at regular intervals.
Bake the galette in the center of the oven for 30-40 minutes, until the asparagus is browned and roasted and the dough edges have browned.
Can be served warm, cold, or at room temperature.