If you find yourself unmotivated to cook during the long, languid days of summer, you are not alone. You won’t find us at the stove for hours on end in July or August, needlessly tending to stocks, or checking on a braise. Not only is such effort unenjoyable in the hotter months, it is also wholly unnecessary, for one simple reason: the low-effort high-reward ratio of in-season tomatoes.
The variety of tomato cultivars is extensive but one thing is true for all of them: they are at their best when ripened in the hot, drawn-out days of high summer. Thankfully, tomatoes are best enjoyed with the most minimal of interventions – so enjoyable is the sweet umaminess of a tomato in its prime that from June to September, lunch for us means nothing more than toasted sourdough, tomatoes, olive oil and salt.
If you’re willing to put in more effort than that (by which we mean turning on the oven) then our tomato and cheese galette is another way to let ripe tomatoes do the gastronomic heavy lifting. It’s especially handy when feeding a crowd, as we recently did at a garden party for our seasonal collaborators. We cooked – no, prepared – salads, dips, sandwiches and a plethora of sweet things that all met our requirements for hot weather eating: easy to assemble and delicious. Requirements that, we can say, are met by nothing better than a tomato galette.
Heritage Tomato and Cheese Galette
This is ultimately a celebration of tomatoes. We used tri-coloured Datterini and Bullseye varieties from Natoora, as that was what was in season at the time. You don’t need to use these specific varieties; we recommend going to your local farmers market or greengrocers and picking whichever ones are in season.
We used one of our favourite cheeses, Lincolnshire Poacher, but a galette is a forgiving thing; any grated hard cheese will work beautifully. You will need a shallow, 40x30cm baking tray lined with parchment paper.
600g flaky pastry (store bought is fine, or see below for how to make our quick flaky pastry)
30g (or heaped tablespoon) Dijon mustard
150g hard cheese, such as Lincolnshire Poacher
2 large tomatoes (around 200g each), sliced thickly
200g cherry tomatoes, halved
Basil leaves, for serving
- Preheat your oven to 180°.
- On a floured surface, roll the pastry to the size of the baking tray, then place it on the tray.
- Spread or brush the mustard over the pastry, then sprinkle over the cheese.
- Arrange the tomatoes in one layer over the cheese, and season with salt and pepper.
- Drizzle with a bit of olive oil (about a tablespoon) then crimp the edges of the pastry to form a ‘fence’.
- Beat the egg with a fork in a small bowl and then brush the pastry edges with the egg wash.
- Bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes. You can check it’s done by lifting the galette from one corner – the bottom needs to be golden brown, if it isn’t, bake for 5-10 minutes longer.
- Remove from the oven, allow to cool for 10 minutes, sprinkle with basil leaves, drizzle with a bit more olive oil and serve.
Flaky Fromage Frais Pastry
We promised ease, so this is by no means essential, but if you can spare an extra 10 minutes, our flaky pastry hack is well worth the added exertion. Making genuine flaky pastry is a time-consuming business but we long-ago perfected a method that gives you the same light, buttery, crumbly results in a fraction of the time.
250g plain flour
250g butter, chilled and diced
1 tsp fine sea salt
175g fromage frais, sour cream or full-fat Greek yoghurt
- Put the flour, cold butter and salt in a large mixing bowl. Using your fingertips or the beater if using a stand mixer, rub the butter into the flour until you have something that looks like coarse breadcrumbs, with a few larger specks of butter left here and there (these will add to the flaky texture).
- Add the fromage frais all in one go and mix until combined. The dough will be sticky, but don’t overwork it or your pastry will be tough. Form into a rough ball, flatten out on cling film into a rectangle, warp and chill it for at least two hours, or overnight.