Cooking and eating seasonally comes naturally to me. I grew up in deserts all over the world, all we knew was to follow the season. My mother, her mother and really all the mothers I knew growing up (because let’s face it, dads weren’t stay-at-home caregivers in my time) bought vegetables, milk, fruits and bread fresh from cart vendors and hawkers who roamed residential colonies and called out to ladies of the house. The whole ordeal was very dramatic and a strange nasal shout out, each one with a different call that sounded nothing like the Hindi word for vegetables. Picture this, the word for vegetables in Hindi is ‘sabzi’, the hawker would call out in a loud, gravelly voice – ‘saaaabbzhfgskdhfeeeeeeelloooomeehs” (WTF?!!). My mother’s antennas would instinctively perk up and she would have me run out with a large basket and hold the guy till she came out with her change purse. Then ensued the battle of wills, bargaining, negotiating, nickel-and-diming that would put the best of hagglers to shame. She taught me to weigh with my palms, to ween out the good tomatoes from the bad, to tell if the milk had been mixed with water, to buy okra firm and spinach lush, to look for spots and tell by skin, smell and color.

Naturally, our meals consisted of what the hawkers brought, and they brought what the farmers grew – and therefore, squash was for winters, watermelon for summer. We weren’t spoiled for choice, living within one’s means also meant availing the cheap and the local. There were no complaints though, you adapt and you get creative with your meals – my mother sure did. Living in the desert means repurposing whatever the desert can grow – and using every part of it without throwing away the bounty. We ate neem fruits, dessert berries, gooseberries and a variety of stone fruits straight from the tree. It was a different world.

Once we moved, seasons meant nothing. There were mangoes to be found in the winter, and all shades of citrus in the summer. Tropical fruits are available year-round and the world is at my feet in the frozen section. The world of hormones and antibiotics, free-range and organic didn’t exist 20 years ago, or if it did it wasn’t this madness.

As I become increasingly aware of where my food is really coming from, I’m learning to respect the product more. I have the luxury to be able to afford seasonal, local fare. And so, when I see heirloom tomatoes in all shades of yellow, red and green at my Thursday farmer’s market, I don’t hesitate to pick up a basket and plan an entire meal around it. These particular tomatoes went into two galettes with creamy walnut pesto, goat cheese, and grated Grana Padano. Simple food is the natural conclusion of fresh, seasonal produce.

Print Recipe
Heirloom Tomato Galette with Goat Cheese and Walnut Pesto
Heirloom tomatoes on a bed of walnut basil pesto, topped with caramelized shallots, goat cheese, and fresh Grana Padano encased in a simple crumbly, buttery pastry crust.
Cuisine French
Servings
8" galettes
Ingredients
Crust
Walnut pesto
Filling
Cuisine French
Servings
8" galettes
Ingredients
Crust
Walnut pesto
Filling
Instructions
Crust
  1. In a medium bowl, mix together the flour and salt. Cut the cold butter into the flour with your fingers, or shave frozen butter into your flour until a coarse mixture is formed. Pour water and stir until the dough comes together. Form into 2 balls, flatten into discs, wrap tightly in a plastic wrap. Chill for at least an hour or up to 24 hours
Pesto
  1. Combine the walnuts, garlic, basil, salt, pepper, olive oil in a food processor. Pulse to combine. Leave it slightly coarse for some texture. Blend in the cream cheese and sour cream for a thick spread-like consistency
Caramelized shallots
  1. In a medium pan, heat 2 tbsp oil. When hot, add sliced shallots and let cook on low-medium heat for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Add a dash of water or stock to bring out the golden color of shallots. Add salt and set aside.
Assembly
  1. Slice the tomatoes 1/4" thick and lay them out on a towel-lined dish or mesh sieve. Sprinkle with salt and let sit for 5-10 minutes. Drain or pat dry
  2. Roll out the pastry crust on a lightly floured surface to 1/4-1/8" thick circle. Brush the inside lightly with egg wash.
  3. Leaving a 1-1.5" boundary, spread it with half the pesto, then layer with heirloom tomatoes, caramelized shallots, then repeat with the remaining pesto, shallots, and tomatoes. Sprinkle salt, pepper and shaved grana Padano cheese on top. Repeat with the other ball of dough or reserve it for later
  4. Turn in the 1-15" margin of the dough inwards to seal the galette. Brush the top with egg wash.
  5. Preheat the oven to 425 F and bake for 25-30 minutes or until the crust is golden brown. Let cool for 15 minutes before cutting slices, garnish with fresh cheese, basil, and goat cheese