I know it’s too early for asparagus, at least in New York, but I’m tired of waiting, a feeling that both encapsulates my cooking right now and my mood about [waves hands] everything. I am sure I’m not alone in being ready for summer, for outside, for all of my friends to get vaccinated, for my kids lives to normalize so they can be off screens all day, and I know you do not get things by stamping your feet and demanding them (I may have tried) but if there’s one thing on this list we can safely take an advance on, it’s spring vegetables. Grocery store asparagus is lovely and here for us until the freshly-plucked Greenmarket stuff emerges and I say we embrace it with abandon.
“Cooking is like painting or writing a song. Just as there are only so many notes or colors, there are only so many flavors—it’s how you combine them that sets you apart.”– WOLFGANG PUCK
This galette has been several years in the making. Every spring I take a couple stabs at asparagus galettes but have rejected each because they were too woody, soft, discolored, and/or too much work — poaching and water baths or roasting and chopping and just no. If we’re going to make a homemade crust — and if you do, the payoff here is immense — I want everything else to be as effortless as possible.
After all of that trial and error, I found the perfect technique in the Zucchini and Ricotta Galette in the archives. Salting and draining sliced asparagus softens it enough that it can finish cooking to a perfect crisp-tenderness in the oven without discoloring. A mixture of cheeses, lemon, and garlic makes an unassuming-seeming base that in the oven, exceeds its potential: bubbling up and locking down the asparagus on top, and sharply flavoring everything. This is fantastic warm or at room temperature, and it keeps well in the fridge for up to a week. You won’t regret making two.
Spring Asparagus Galette
Time: 45 minutes, plus chilling time
Source: Smitten Kitchen
Of course you can use a storebought pie crust instead — the unroll and bake ones are the way to go here — but I promise this dough is so easy, you’ll be glad you tried it. Puffed pastry can work too, but won’t hold pleats so you’ll want to make more of a flat tart. I replace 1/2 cup of the all-purpose flour here with whole wheat flour.
- 1 1/4 cups (165 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 8 tablespoons (4 ounces or 115 grams) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- 1/4 cup (60 grams) plain yogurt or sour cream
- 3 to 4 tablespoons (45 to 60 ml) cold water
- 1 pound asparagus
- Kosher salt
- 1/2 cup (125 grams) ricotta cheese
- 1/2 cup (45 grams) grated gruyere, comte, or gouda cheese
- 1/4 cup (30 grams) grated parmesan or pecorino cheese
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- Red pepper flakes or freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) olive oil
- Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
- 1 large egg or egg yolk (optional, for shine)
Make the crust: Combine the flour and salt in a large bowl. Sprinkle butter over dough and using a pastry blender or your fingertips, work it into the flour until the mixture resembles small peas. Sprinkle sour cream and 3 tablespoons of water over the mixture and stir/mash it together to combine; it should form large clumps; add last tablespoon water if it does not. Use your hands to bring it together into a single mass. Transfer dough to a large square of parchment paper, patting it into a flatter packet, and wrap it tightly. Chilling it in the fridge until firm, 1 to 2 hours or up to 4 days. You can hasten the firming process along in the freezer, for about 20 minutes.
Make the filling: Hold the asparagus by the tough end (no need to snap it off) and cut the tips into 1-inch segments and the rest of the spears into very thin slices on a sharp angle. In a large bowl, toss with 1 teaspoon kosher salt and set aside for 30 minutes.
In a small bowl, combine ricotta, gruyere, parmesan, garlic, a pinch of salt, and pepper to taste and set aside.
Drain asparagus in a colander and pat it dry on paper towels. Return it to the empty bowl and toss with olive oil, lemon zest, and pepper to taste. (No need to salt because it will be well-seasoned from the salting step.)
Assemble galette: Heat oven to 400°F. Unwrap firm crust dough and line a large baking sheet with the parchment paper that it was wrapped in. On a floured counter, roll the dough out into a large round-ish shape, about 14 inches across. Gently transfer it to the parchment paper in the pan. Spread ricotta mixture over center, leaving a 3-inch border bare. Spoon asparagus over ricotta layer. Fold the border over the filling, pleating the edge to make it fit. The center will be open.
For a darker, glossier crust, beat an egg or just a yolk with 1 teaspoon of water and brush it over the crust.
Bake galette: For 30 to 35 minutes, until the crust is deeply golden. Serve warm, in wedges.
Do ahead: This galette keeps in the fridge for up to one week. It’s good at room temperature but even better warm, so the cheese is all stretchy again.