Caprese Galette: A Taste of Summer
A galette is a round, rustic free-form style tart that can be made savory or sweet. It originated in France where it’s said that there are as many ways to make a galette as there are French regions. For this recipe, we’ll be merging this French classic with all the beautiful colors of the Italian flag.
This delicious savory tart combines fresh mozzarella, juicy heirloom tomatoes, and garden-fresh basil wrapped in a buttery flaky puff pastry. The caprese galette is bursting with the most vibrant flavors, colors, textures, and aromas. It’s truly a feast for the senses.
If making homemade, the key to creating the perfect flaky dough is making sure the butter is chilled as well as the mixing bowl. When the butter is cold and properly incorporated into the other ingredients, it melts during baking and releases steam. Those steam pockets are what creates the flaky, crispy layers of the dough.
Once combined, the finished dough itself should be fully chilled before rolling it out. When the dough is properly chilled, it makes it easier to work with. If the butter becomes too soft while rolling out the dough, it can tear easily. The best way to avoid this is to work quickly and if you sense your dough getting too warm while rolling, you can stick it back in the refrigerator intermittently throughout this process. You can also make the dough several days in advance, wrap it in plastic wrap, and leave it in the fridge until you are ready to use it.
We recommend the addition of vinegar to the dough ingredients. The acidity from the vinegar helps to increase the flexibility of the gluten which allows the dough to stretch more easily.
If you’re looking for a simple alternative to making the dough from scratch, store-bought puff pastry dough will work wonderfully as a substitute.
Puff pastry is made using a laminated dough technique. This style of dough simply means that there are alternating layers of butter or a fat folded in with the dough. Common pastries made using this method are croissants and danish. When using store-bought puff pastry, be sure to work quickly here as well. Once it has thawed slightly you can begin rolling it out while still making sure to keep the dough cool at all times.
If you were to take all the fresh summer flavors of Italy and put them into one dish you would have caprese. The creaminess of the mozzarella, the sweet juiciness of the heirloom tomatoes, and the bright fresh pop of basil offer everything you could want in a dish and more.
Let’s start with the heirloom tomatoes. Heirloom seeds are open-pollinated, meaning they exist and grow without human intervention. These seeds produce fruits and vegetables that are full of flavor and nutrients. Using heirloom tomatoes is going to yield the best result when it comes to flavor, texture, and appearance.
For this recipe, you’ll want to sprinkle the tomato slices with salt and allow them to sit for about 15 minutes prior to assembly to allow the tomatoes to release some of their liquid. This will allow the filling to be less watery and help avoid a soggy crust.
Fresh basil adds brightness to any dish it accompanies, and this homemade caprese galette is no exception. The basil lends its pungent flavor to marry with the rich mozzarella and sweet tomatoes. The age-old argument of whether to tear basil versus chopping it is still alive and well today. Some say that cutting the basil with a knife causes the basil to turn black and it becomes visually unappealing. The argument for tearing the basil is that it helps to release the oils better than cutting does and therefore makes it more fragrant. The choice is yours!
If you don’t have your own herb garden overflowing with basil, the grocery store has a great selection. Choose basil with evenly colored leaves that are not wilted. Be sure to properly store your basil in the refrigerator if you don’t plan on using it the same day. There are several ways to store your basil. You can wrap the basil in a slightly damp paper towel and place it in a plastic bag for up to four days. You can also store it stem side down in a glass of water similar to a bouquet of flowers with a plastic bag over the leaves. Storing it this way will help make it last for up to a week.
The icing on top of this gorgeous galette is the balsamic drizzle. You can find many delicious balsamic glazes at the supermarket; however, you can also easily make your own. Simply add your favorite balsamic vinegar to a pan, bring it to a boil, lower it to a simmer, and reduce it by half. There’s no need to add any additional sugar because a reduction by nature evaporates any liquid and concentrates the flavor. That concentration of flavor leaves you with a sweet viscous syrup that will be an incredible pièce de résistance to the dish.
The simplicity of the ingredients in this caprese galette recipe means that each ingredient should be of the highest quality. There’s no substitution for a silky smooth fresh mozzarella. Its soft texture and mild sweet delicate taste round out this exquisite galette.
Fresh mozzarella is made using the pasta filata technique where the cheese curd is dipped into hot whey and then stretched and kneaded until it reaches its desired consistency. There was a time when only the milk of a water buffalo was used to make fresh mozzarella, hence the name Mozzarella di bufala or buffalo mozzarella.
Most buffalo mozzarella found in the United States today is made from a combination of water buffalo milk and cow’s milk. No matter which way you slice it, fresh mozzarella is simply delicious!
Cooking & Serving
Once fully assembled, for the best result, place the galette in the freeze for approximately 15 minutes before baking. This will ensure your dough is firm and the filling stays in place. Bake in a 400-degree oven for 60 minutes, or until the top is crisp and golden brown. To be certain even browning occurs, rotate the galette about halfway through cooking. Before serving, let it cool slightly and drizzle with balsamic glaze and enjoy!