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Thursday, April 24, 2014

Enfold summer

Galettes are free-form pies that are easy and all-purpose.

By Noelle Carter
Los Angeles Times

Nothing celebrates summer quite like a fresh pie. It’s as if we’re taking the best the season has to offer — vibrantly colored produce practically bursting with flavor and nurtured to ripeness under a hot sun — and wrapping that bounty in a tender, flaky crust. Like a gift.

It’s hard not to get excited at the sight of a great pie, whether piled high in a deep-dish plate or beautifully arranged in a shallow tart pan. Though I have to say, lately I’ve been leaving out the plates and pans entirely and opting for something a bit more casual with a galette. Because sometimes, or maybe always, simple is best.

Think of a galette as pie’s free-form cousin. Roll the dough out, pile in the filling and gently fold up the outer edges of the dough to hold it all together. Some recipes use a type of tart dough — a sweeter, more cookie-like short crust — for the pastry. Me? I stick with a flaky pie dough — rich, buttery and not so sweet — worked a little more to give it the strength to hold the filling without the support of a dish. Rustic yet beautiful, a galette is perfection simplified. Nothing fussy about it.

Almost any summer produce works in a galette: sweet berries and stone fruit, or go savory, riffing with tomatoes or zucchini, so long as the produce has the right balance of flavors and depth of personality.

The trick is to keep it simple. Let the fruits and vegetables speak for themselves by not disguising them with a bunch of other flavors.

Stone fruits are just coming into season, and apricots are downright wonderful about now. Toss sliced apricots with a little sugar and a touch of almond extract, which brings out the flavors of stone fruit. Add some sliced almonds to give the filling a subtle crunch, as well as a handful of fresh raspberries to lend a splash of vibrant red. As the fruit cooks, the flavors will evolve and soften with a natural sweetness.

Fresh out of the oven, give the galette a little time to cool slightly and all those fragrant juices a chance to settle before digging in.

For a savory take on the galette, toss sliced ripe tomatoes with a little garlic, fresh oregano and a few diced olives to brighten the mix. Bake the galette (using the same pie crust) until golden-brown, then serve, slightly cooled, with a sprinkling of chopped basil. Top the slices with a dollop of fresh cheese, say, creamy burrata or ricotta. It makes a perfect afternoon snack, even a light meal.

Because something as good as pie shouldn’t be reserved only for dessert.

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