The first colors of the season have started to find their way to the farmers market. Greens and yellows mostly, but last Saturday, a tinge of red caught the corner of my eye. Following the red back to its source, I spotted a little table of rhubarb, hidden between a gathering of basil plants and a display of forsythia bouquets. The rhubarb was unmarked, just a humble pile of long, green stalks flecked with red at their roots. Amid a sea of people and activity, it stood untouched and seemingly unnoticed. I paused at the edge of the table, feeling as though I had found an undiscovered gem and excited at the prospect of what a bundle of these tart, crisp stalks would become.
It didn't take long to decide what I would make, as strawberry rhubarb pie has always been one of my favorite Springtime desserts. The unassuming nature of this rhubarb, though, called for something a little more free form and less exacting than pie. A simple, rustic galette came to mind -- the flavors of pie without the perfection.
I contemplated the filling as I put together the pastry dough -- adding a handful of cornmeal for texture. I envisioned the tart sweetness of the strawberries and rhubarb, and found my imagination craving some brightness and heat. The brightness was easy -- some lemon juice and zest would definitely do the trick -- but adding heat without overshadowing such simple flavors had me a bit stumped. I rummaged through my pantry, exploring my collection of spices, but nothing seemed right. It wasn't until a while later, hunched in front of my fridge, that I discovered a leftover nub of ginger root from a previous night's dinner. I knew the second I spotted it -- the sweet warmth of ginger made perfect sense.
Moments later a buttery, sweet aroma filled my apartment as I pulled a beautiful, bubbling galette from my oven. The strawberries and rhubarb had softened, creating a thick jewel-red jam that peered from the center of a golden crust. A far cry from their unassuming pile on an unmarked table, but exactly where they belonged.
strawberry rhubarb + ginger galette
This galette combines the classic sweet and tart combination of strawberries and rhubarb, with a touch of fresh ginger root for a subtle, but delicious heat. A buttery cornmeal pie crust adds texture and richness. Simple, bright flavors and no fuss -- just how a Spring dessert should be.
cornmeal pastry dough [recipe below]
2 cups sliced strawberries
3 stalks of rhubarb, ends trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces [depending on size, should yield about 1 1/2 cups]
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger root [this yields a very subtle warmth -- if you're looking for a more assertive heat, add more]
1/2 cup raw cane sugar
1/4 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour
pinch of salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 egg, beaten
vanilla ice cream, for serving
First, prepare the cornmeal pastry dough [recipe below]. While the dough chills, prepare the filling:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
In a large bowl, combine the sliced strawberries and chopped rhubarb. Add the lemon juice, lemon zest, ginger, sugar, flour, and salt. Mix to combine well. Allow to rest for about 10 minutes.
Once pastry dough has chilled, on a floured surface, roll out into a large circle [about 15-inches in diameter]. Roll the dough onto your rolling pin and unroll onto a parchment or Silpat-lined large baking sheet. Add the filling to the center of the dough, leaving a 3-inch border. Working around the circle, carefully fold the border of the dough up over the edges of the filling, making sure to seal everything in, but leaving the majority of the filling exposed.
Using a pastry brush, brush the exposed border of dough with the beaten egg. Dot the exposed filling with the pieces of butter. Transfer to the oven and bake until crust is golden and filling is bubbling, about 50 minutes. Allow to cool for 15 minutes before cutting into wedges. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.
For the cornmeal pastry dough:
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
12 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1/2 cup ice water
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar, and salt. Add the butter, and using your hands, work it into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse meal [the butter pieces should be able the size of peas]. Add the water and mix until the dough just comes together. Flatten into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before using.