Last week was the kids’ spring holiday and we went to visit my sister in the Czech Republic. She lives in the kind of a place that in Czech we call “where foxes kiss good night”. Which means the road ends there, there are only about 30 inhabitants, no shop, no anything. But this leads to a greater sense of community, because as they say in Dutch “a good neighbour is better than a distant friend”. ( What an overload of folk wisdom!) My sister buys eggs from one neighbour and honey and hay for her horses from another. There’s also a neighbour who repairs cars. Several families now bought a walkie-talkie and when someone drives to a shop, he’ll ask if the others need anything.
There are hills and woods all around, something that I miss deeply here in the Netherlands. We made the most of the seven days we were there, taking long walks, the kids taking turns in riding the pony.
But the cooking was mainly dictated by the conservative tastes of our three year old nephew, with main focus on mild vegetable soups wherein the vegetables had to be grated because he refuses to eat anything with a too recognizable structure. No herbs allowed (3 year olds are very suspicious of green flecks floating in their soup) and NO GARLIC.
So when we got back, I had to compensate. I made this golden galette filled with roasted winter squash, lots of herbs, pungent cheese and a whole head of roasted garlic. My nephew would probably only eat a piece of the crust (which is indeed wonderfully flaky), but what I like most about it, is the contrast between the crispy crust and the smooth, intensely flavoured filling.
Winter squash is in itself rather sweet and if you use it in savoury cooking, it should in my opinion be paired with assertive flavours, such as garlic, or goat cheese, or the smoky sage. Or you can play along with its sweetness and add apples and cinnamon as in our favourite winter squash soup.
Winter squash galette
Adapted (only slightly) from Deborah Madison: Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone
250 g (2 cups) all-purpose or whole-wheat flour
1/2 tsp salt
170 g (12 tbsp) cold unsalted butter
80 – 120 ml (1/3 to ½ cup) ice water as needed
For the filling:
1 kg (2,5 pounds) winter squash (I used
1 small head of garlic, cloves separated but not peeled
1 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for the squash
1 onion, finely diced
12 fresh sage leaves, chopped, or 2 tsp dried
1 tbsp rosemary leaves, chopped
½ cup freshly grated pecorino ir Parmesan
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 egg, beaten
Make the dough.
Mix the flour and salt together in a bowl. Cut the butter by hand or using a paddle attachment, leaving some pea sized chunks. Sprinkle the ice water over the top by the tablespoon and toss it with the flour mixture until you can bring the dough together to a ball. Press it onto a disk and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 190 degrees Celsius ( 375 F),. Cut the squash in half, scrape out the seeds, and brush the cut surface with oil. Stuff the garlic into the cavities and place the squash cut side down on a sheet pan. Bake until the flesh is tender, about 40 minutes. Scoop out the squash and squeeze the garlic cloves. Mash them together with a fork until fairly smooth, leaving some texture.
Warm 1 tablespoon oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and the herbs and cook until the onion is soft and beginning to colour, about 12 minutes. Add it to the squash along with the grated cheese and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Roll the dough into a 35 cm (14-inch) circle (about 3mm (1/8 inch) thick). Fold the dough into quarters and transfer it to a large piece of baking parchment, unfold. Spread the filling over it, leaving a border of 5 cm (2 inches) or more. Pleat the dough over the filling, then brush the edges with beaten egg. Bake until the crust is golden, about 25 to 30 minutes.
Serve with a salad of bitter .