I love rustic food. I love dishes that are simple, fresh, and highlight the natural flavors of whatever you're cooking. Some of my favorite meals while traveling through Europe included nothing more than a baguette, a wedge of good cheese, fresh fruit and a bottle of wine. So simple, yet with a complexity of flavors and a pleasant roughness. A good salad with fresh cheese and a simple vinaigrette. A tray of roasted vegetables and fresh herbs. A beautifully fried egg atop a bit of toasted homemade bread and a slice of fresh tomato. This is my kind of eating.
Jamie Oliver is probably my favorite chef - mostly because we share a love for rustic, seasonal, and fresh food. He's taught me everything I know about the value of fresh herbs. I can barely make a savory dish now without a sprig of something. I'm lost in the winter, without a pot of small herbs to supply me. Fresh herbs or not, he inspires me to make something delicious and beautiful out of the most simple ingredients.
We had a quiche shell at work this week that fell during the pre-bake - it was far too short to hold a fair amount of egg and milk. So I took it home to re-purpose. With winter and rustic in mind, I discovered a lovely Sweet Potato Parmesan & Goat Cheese Galette recipe. Perfect. I even had a dried bunch of thyme leftover from the season. It baked up marvelously in my short-little crust and the harmony of fresh flavors was the highlight of my week.
PS. A "galette" is just a type of french pastry crust - usually freeform and used in savory and sweet dishes alike. Of course, it is simple and rustic, which is why I like it. I already had a crust, but for the purpose of this recipe, you can make your basic savory pie or tart crust or buy one from the store.
Adapted from Fine Cooking, Susie Middleton
3+ Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup finely chopped shallots
3-5 sweet potatoes (depending on size), peeled
1 heaping tsp. coarsely chopped fresh thyme leaves
3/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 cup shaved or grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
4 oz. crumbled fresh chevre/goat cheese
If you've got a pie/tart crust to roll out, now's the time. You can roll it out for a pie or tart pan or you can roll it out into some sort of organic shape for a galette - in which you will fill the shell (on a sheet pan) and fold over the edges, leaving the center open. If you're planning on baking it in a pie or tart shell, I suggest pre-baking the shell. Line the shell with tinfoil and fill with pie weights, dried beans, or anything small and oven-safe (I often use small metal silverware). This keeps the bottom crust from puffing up and the sides from collapsing. Bake at 375 for 20 or so minutes, until it's slightly browned. Let cool.
Combine the shallots and a couple tablespoons of olive oil in a small pan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce to a low simmer and cook for about 2 minutes, until shallots are soft but not browned. Remove from heat and let cool.
Preheat over to 400 degrees.
Slice the potatoes as thinly as possible - very carefully with a chef's knife or like I did, quick and simple with the food processer. Put the potatoes in a mixing bowl, add the shallots, a drizzle of olive oil, fresh herbs and salt. Use your hands or a rubber spatula to toss well and coat the potatoes.
Cover the bottom of the crust with a single layer of potatoes. Start along the outermost edge and move in ward, slightly overlapping the potato slices. Sprinkle with some of the parmesan and crumbled goat cheese. Arrange another layer of potatoes. Sprinkle with more parmesan and goat cheese. Arrange a final layer of potatoes and sprinkle the top with remaining cheeses.
Bake for 40-45 minutes, until the top is a rich golden brown and the potatoes are tender all the way through (poke with a fork to test). Don't worry if the goat cheese seems quite brown - it will be delicious!
Let cool 10-15 minutes and slice into wedges. I promise, you'll want seconds.