Eric Akis: Bake savoury tart the rustic way

Tomatoes always taste wonderful in pastry and dish is made even better by three Italian styles of cheese

Eric Akis

If you want to make a savoury tart, but don’t have a fancy, fluted, false-bottom tart pan, go the more rustic route and make a galette. It’s a free-form style of tart where you roll out pastry or dough, fill it and, most often, partially fold over or crimp the sides so that your filling stays in place.

Today’s galette recipe came about after I needed to find a way to use up some of the cherry tomatoes that were quickly ripening in a plant pot on my deck. They always taste great baked in pastry, I thought, especially if I accented their flavour with fresh herbs, garlic and three styles of Italian cheese — ricotta, provolone and Parmesan.

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I used puff pastry as the base for my galette, which you’ll find for sale in the frozen foods section of supermarkets. A nice thing about my galette recipe is that you can get it oven-ready several hours before you serve it. Just keep it refrigerated until you are ready to bake it.

To make a nice late summer lunch or dinner, serve wedges of the galette with a simple green salad and a glass of B.C. rosé or pinot gris.

Cherry Tomato Italian Cheese Galette

Ripe, in-season tomatoes are baked in a rustic-looking tart with three Italian styles of cheese: ricotta, provolone and Parmesan.

Preparation time: 35 minutes

Cooking time: 35 to 40 minutes

Makes: four to six servings

1 cup ricotta cheese

1/2 cup grated provolone cheese (about 50 grams)

2 large eggs (divided)

1 large garlic clove, minced

• salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 (10-inch) square piece frozen rolled puff pastry, thawed (see Note)

• all-purpose flour, for rolling

30 cherry tomatoes, each halved

• salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 Tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese, or to taste

• fresh oregano leaves, or sliced fresh basil leaves, to taste

Place the ricotta, provolone, one of the eggs and garlic in a bowl.

Season with salt and pepper, and then mix well to combine. Set aside for a moment.

Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Lightly flour a work surface. Set on the pastry and roll it out into a slightly larger 12-inch square (it does not have to be perfectly formed). Set the pastry on the baking sheet.

Spoon and spread the ricotta mixture on the puff pastry, leaving a two-inch border of clean pastry.

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1. Roll the puff pastry into a 12-inch square and set on a large parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Spread on the ricotta mixture, leaving a two-inch border of clean pastry.

Arrange the halved cherry tomatoes, cut-side-up, in a single layer, on top of the ricotta mixture, slightly pushing the tomatoes into it.

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2. Arrange the halved cherry tomatoes, cut-side-up, in a single layer, on top of the ricotta mixture. Season the tomatoes with salt and pepper.

Season the tomatoes with salt and pepper.

Fold the clean edges of pastry up and partially over the filling, leaving most of the centre of the galette open.

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3. Fold the clean edges of pastry up and partially over the filling, leaving most of the centre of the galette open. Brush the top of the pastry with beaten egg. Chill, top and bake the galette as noted in the recipe.

Crack the remaining egg into a small bowl and beat well. Brush the top of the pastry with some of that beaten egg. Chill the galette in the refrigerator at least 30 minutes.

(The chilling of the pastry will make it puff better when put in the hot oven. The galette can be made to this point several hours before baking it.)

When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 375 F. Drizzle the tops of the cherry tomatoes with the olive oil. Sprinkle the top of the pastry and tomatoes with Parmesan cheese.

Bake the galette 35 to 40 minutes, or until puffed and golden. Let galette cool and set 10 to 15 minutes, before sprinkling it with oregano leaves or sliced basil, cutting into wedges and serving. The galette could also be served at room temperature.

Note: I used Tenderflake brand rolled puff pastry in this recipe. A 500-gram box of it contains two individually wrapped rolled pieces of puff pastry. You’ll only need one for this recipe. Keep the other frozen for another use.

Eric Akis is the author of eight cookbooks, including seven in his Everyone Can Cook series. His columns appear in the Life section Wednesday and Sunday.

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