Simple food is the natural conclusion of fresh, seasonal produce. And that’s what our Southern suppers look like. On a Wednesday of no particular import, this is what finds its way to our plates. So, from my Southern table to yours…I hope you get the chance to make this flavourful tomato pie before the season recedes. The lemon balm & almond pesto really adds something else, and the finished dish is far more than a sum of its parts.
- 110 g cold butter, cut into pieces
- 125 g (1 cup) flour
- ¼ tsp kosher salt
- 2 tbsp ice cold water
- ½ cup lemon balm, packed
- ½ cup basil, packed
- 1½ tbsp almonds, chopped
- 1 large clove garlic
- ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus 2 tbsp for sprinkling
- ¼ tsp sherry vinegar
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 350 g assorted heirloom tomatoes, sliced ¼ in (5 mm) thick
- ½ cup crumbled goat cheese
- 1 shallot, thinly sliced on a mandolin or ceramic slicer
- 1 egg, beaten with a fork, for brushing
- flaky sea salt and freshly grated pepper for sprinkling
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Recipe makes 1 x 9 in (23 cm) galette.
Cooling time 1 hour or overnight
To make your crust, combine the flour and salt in a mixing bowl. Cut the butter into the flour with your fingers or a pastry cutter (I much prefer my hands), until no pieces larger than a pea remain. With a wooden spoon stir in the water until the dough comes together. Form into a ball, flatten into a disc, and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Chill for at least an hour before rolling out. It will keep up to 24 hours like this.
While the dough chills, make your pesto. Combine the lemon balm, basil, almonds, garlic, and a pinch of salt in the bowl of a small food processor and pulse to combine. It should be well chopped but not completely smooth; you want a bit of texture for your tart. Add in the ¼ cup Parmesan and vinegar and pulse. Then slowly add in the oil and pulse to combine.
Alternately, you can make the pesto in a mortar and pestle. Grind the garlic with a pinch of salt to form a paste, add in the lemon balm and basil and pound and grind until the leaves are broken down. Add the nuts and grind until combined. Then add in the ¼ cup Parmesan, vinegar and half the oil. Grind to combine, then add in the other half of the oil and continue to mix with the pestle until homogenous but still a little chunky. The former, naturally, takes a lot less time than the latter, but I personally prefer the experience and chunkier texture of mortar and pestle pesto, despite the extra effort.
Heat oven to 425ºF (220ºC).
Now it's time to roll out your pastry. Place the disc on a well floured surface, flour your rolling pin, and roll the pastry into a rough circle about ⅛-¼ in (3-6 mm) thick, flouring your pin as needed and rotating the dough clockwise every few rolls to prevent sticking. Transfer rolled out crust to a parchment lined rimless sheet pan and stick in the fridge for 10 minutes to chill.
Now is a good time to slice your tomatoes. After slicing them, lay them on a paper towel lined plate, sprinkle lightly with kosher salt, and allow to drain while your crust finishes chilling.
Remove the pastry from the fridge and spread the pesto over it, leaving a 1½ in (4 cm) rim. Place a layer of tomatoes over it, sprinkle with half the shallot and goat cheese, top with a second layer of tomatoes and sprinkle with the remaining shallot and goat cheese. Fold the edges up to seal the galette. If it's too cold, the pastry will break when you try to fold it. If it seems to be too cold, just wait a second.
Brush the crust lightly with the egg, and then sprinkle with sea salt and pepper. Sprinkle the entire tart with the remaining 2 tablespoons of Parmesan.
Bake 25-35 minutes or until the galette is golden brown.
Let cool for about 15 minutes, sprinkle with a few fresh leaves of lemon balm and basil, slice, and enjoy! Along with a bright green salad this makes an excellent locavore, vegetarian supper. And it's great warm or at room temperature, so it's perfect to make ahead for a get together.
• Summer's fleeting already, and it's hard to believe, but this recipe is a great way to make use of the tomatoes I'm sure you're hoarding (like I am). I can hardly bring myself to cook them, but this galette does them justice. It's like a Southern pizza.
Recipe from Local Milk by Beth Kirby, with photographs by Beth Kirby.