As much as I dread fall (mostly because of the season that-shall-not-be-named that comes after it), I have to admit that I secretly enjoy more things about it than any cold-weather hater should have the right to. There’s the undeniable coziness of multiple layers and fuzzy slippers, the soothing weight of a heavy comforter at night, the crisp in-between weather that’s cool enough for classy wool coats but not so cold that I’m resigned to rustly Michelin-Man puffer jackets; there’s the never-ending cornucopia of magical fall baking, from warm, spicy poached pears tucked into baked oatmeal and scones brushed with maple syrup to a surplus of pillowy baked bread and my very first challah. And, maybe best of all, there are magical things like virtual pumpkin parties, thanks to Sara of Cake Over Steak!
Unless I’m kicking it with a classic Libby’s can of pumpkin purée (which I guess isn’t technically pumpkin either), anything pumpkin in my kitchen generally morphs into Japanese pumpkin, or kabocha. I’ve been in love ever since I discovered its enchanting sweetness last winter — it has a fresh, melon-like fragrance when you cut it open, like cantaloupe or honeydew, and when cooked, it’s so sweet and flavorful that I may or may not have made it a meal on more than one occasion, standing at the counter eating it hot off the baking sheet. And the skin is edible! If the kabocha you have isn’t too nubbly on the outside, you can rub the skin with a little bit of olive oil and sprinkle it with salt, bake it in halves, and eat the crispy peel while you use the innards for something else. Or, in this case, you can simply leave the skin on when you slice it up for a galette.
So this kabocha galette has plenty of my soulmate squash, roasted to tender perfection, then tucked into a buttery pie crust along with caramelized onions (you could make a huge batch and save the leftovers for last week’s pasta!) and a happy amount of salty, bubbly cheese. I like that the galette is a play of both textures and flavors, my favorite kind of meal — the flakiness from the crust against creamy, soft squash and melty cheese with a touch of browned crisp on top, earthy, nutty notes from a bit of sage and minced garlic balanced by honey-like onions. You could make it a side at Thanksgiving or lunch with a fall salad, or you could just eat it like a pizza (like B2 thought it was when it first came out of the oven) and call it a day.
This calls for only half of a small kabocha, which leaves the other half for things like my newest obsession, kabocha French toast, which tastes like pumpkin pie and French toast had a baby (and which I made for a little post on the Urban Outfitters blog last week!) or — more importantly — the over seventy mouthwatering creations that other fabulous bloggers have put together for Sara’s pumpkin party here! Happy pumpkin-ing, friends! Hope you’re all having a lovely fall.
If you're not such a fan of goat cheese, any melty, savory cheese with a slight punch will do, like Gruyere, fontina, or provolone. If you can, though, don't skip it -- I thought it went a long way to provide a salty, lively balance to the sweet caramelized onions and the creamy kabocha.
- for the crust:
- 1 1/4 cups (about 156g) all-purpose flour
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup (1 stick or 113g) unsalted butter, frozen
- 1/4 cup ice water (plus 1 or 2 tbsp more, depending)
- 1 tsp finely chopped fresh sage
- for the filling:
- 1 lb kabocha (about half of a small one), sliced
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp salt, divided
- 1-2 tbsp butter
- 1 large onion, thinly sliced
- 1/8 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp minced garlic
- 1/2 tsp chopped sage
- 1 tsp balsamic vinegar (optional; this Lucini apple balsamic works well)
- 3-4 tbsp aged or fresh Vermont Creamery goat cheese (crumbles work too, though I liked the meltiness of the softer cheese)
- 1 egg or a splash of cream for the crust (optional)
- To make the galette crust: Remove the butter from the freezer and let it thaw briefly while you prepare the dry ingredients. (Alternatively, you can take refrigerated butter and pop it in the fridge for about 30 minutes.) Whisk together the flour, salt, and chopped sage. Using the coarsest holes on a box grater, grate the frozen butter into the flour, then mix gently with your fingers to incorporate it into the flour until no clumps larger than peas remain. Sprinkle three tablespoons of the ice water evenly over the mixture and stir with a wooden spoon to incorporate. When the mixture holds together when squeezed, it has enough moisture -- if it won’t hold, add more water, a tablespoon at a time, until it does. Knead gently a few times to gather it into a dough, then wrap it into a disk in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to chill for at least an hour and up to a day ahead. For longer than a day in advance, freeze the dough.
- For the kabocha: Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Wash and scrub the kabocha, then cut in half and scoop out the seeds. Slice lengthwise into 1/4-inch thick slices -- I found that a sharp mandoline (I like this one) was best for this, though be very careful when using. You can keep the skin on. Toss pieces with olive oil and about half the salt, then place in a single layer on a parchment- or Silpat-lined baking sheet and roast for 15 minutes or until pieces are tender. Set aside to cool slightly.
- For the onions: While the kabocha is roasting, melt the butter in a heavy skillet. Lay the onion slices in a single layer (they can overlap slightly), then cook over low heat, stirring once every 10 minutes or so, until soft, brown, and jammy. In the last 2 minutes of cooking, add the minced garlic, sage, and balsamic vinegar (if using). Let cool briefly.
- To bake: Raise the oven temperature to 400 degrees. Roll the galette dough out to a 12-inch circle between two pieces of parchment paper, or on a Silpat underneath parchment paper. Peel off the top piece of parchment paper, then line the galette with kabocha slices, caramelized onions, and goat cheese, leaving a 1 to 1 1/2-inch border. Fold the edges over the filling, pleating as desired. If you like, brush a bit of beaten egg or heavy cream over the crust for a more golden crust.
- Bake until golden brown, 30 to 40 minutes. Let cool briefly, then enjoy!