So, this is perhaps one of the weirder things I’ve done.
Though the colors are stunning together, I didn’t do it just for the ‘gram. This flavor story is too good not to tell.
It’s so wonderfully weird. It’s bright & tart, earthy & grassy, creamy & sharp. It is, in my humble opinion, just perfection.
When I first made this, I went full-weirdo, delighting in the tedium of sketching out a pattern on parchment paper, measuring with a ruler & cutting each piece to the same size, slicing each end on an angle so they would fit together seamlessly in a beautiful chevron pattern. I even texted a photo & a bit of a self-deprecating message to my partner (because pic or it didn’t happen, right?) (Also, yes, I know this recipe took me a full month to perfect from test to final photographs to post.)
My rhubarb stalks then were thinner, about the same thickness as the asparagus, so that pattern made sense. But a few weeks later, when I made this again to photograph, the stalks were over an inch thick. So instead, I sliced the stalk (in the same way you slice celery) to match the width of the asparagus; the stalks were rounded on the sides, which made it hard to slice those hard angles. But I knew from baking this before that the cheese would bubble up, pushing in between the pieces. I wasn’t worried about exact corners matching up as long as I had the pattern. This is how I play in the kitchen.
I’ve been on a real rhubarb kick this year. One of the first things to pop up every spring, a shock of brilliant ruby among the winter-y greens & muted earth-toned squashes. But rhubarb’s season always seemed fleeting: the first to arrive on the scene, announcing spring, & then quick to depart.
But maybe that’s just the way I remember it, by not really remembering it … because rhubarb also always felt so foreign to me, perhaps I just don’t remember seeing it week after week for two months (or more). I didn’t grow up with rhubarb; I don’t remember it when I worked at farmer’s markets in Atlanta. Do I not remember it because it wasn’t there, or do I not remember it because I simply wasn’t paying attention? I didn’t commit to long-term memory something for which I had no frame of reference, no personal or emotional connection.
That has certainly changed this season. I’ve made several rhubarb cakes & a few iterations of this galette. There’s still rhubarb in my freezer. I’ve learned how to taste it, how to cook & bake with it. I see it differently now.
I have a real vested interest in & knack for mixing sweet & savory. I always prefer a little salt or savory notes with my sweet — rosemary in apple muffins, for example; sea salt & almonds with my chocolate. I like apple slices with cheese, not peanut butter. (I like strawberries with cheese, too, although that’s a story for another time.)
I like taking things that tend to be thought of as only sweet, destined just for desserts, & finding ways to make them savory. I don’t just mean dressing up something sweet, but really finding ways to use that sweetness in harmony with & as a balance for other rich, deep, savory flavors. I’ve been doing it for years, I just never paid close enough attention to really realize how often I am drawn to those kinds of pairings. (Years ago, I made a banana habanero curry cheesecake. Weird & wonderful, but really only to me so I only made it once. It has been on my mind for the last few months & I think I need to make it again.)
And so here we are with this weirdly wonderful galette. Rhubarb isn’t naturally very sweet, but it’s bright, tart flavor is the perfect complement to the other ingredients here. The creamy cheese mixture mellows that tartness a bit while, simultaneously, the rhubarb helps to cut the richness. It also lightens up the earthy undertones of the asparagus.
So, it might be a little weird. (Or a lot weird; a scale of weirdness is pretty subjective.) But this is definitely one weirdo recipe I encourage you to try.
Anyone who’s a chef, who loves food, ultimately knows that all that matters is: ‘Is it good? Does it give pleasure?’
— Anthony Bourdain
- Blue Cheese
Savory Rhubarb & Asparagus Galette
For the pie dough:
150 grams gluten-free all purpose flour
50 grams almond meal (preferably course/stone-ground, but finer almond flour works too!)
Pinch kosher flake salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, very cold
1 large egg
1 tablespoon vodka (optional)
4-6+ tablespoons ice water
For the galette:
½ bunch fresh asparagus, trimmed (approx. 2 cups of sliced asparagus total)
3-4 stalks rhubarb, sliced (approx. 2 cups of sliced rhubarb total)
3 ounces (84 grams) cream cheese, room temp.
2 tablespoons heavy cream (or milk/half & half)
1 shallot, minced (about 2 tablespoons)
1 tablespoon fresh chives
¼ cup crumbled blue cheese
¼ cup chopped walnuts
Olive oil, salt & pepper
Heavy cream, for brushing the dough
Make the dough: If you have a food processor with a grater attachment, place the grater piece & the stick of butter (unwrapped) in the freezer for about 15 minutes. When the butter is really cold, grate it using the food processor attachment; transfer the grated butter to a bowl & return to the freezer. You can also grate the butter by hand with a box grater or cut the butter into small cubes & place those in the freezer for about 15 minutes.
In the bowl of your food processor, combine the flour, almond meal & salt. Pulse a few times to mix & aerate. Carefully remove the bowl from your food processor & place everything in the freezer to chill. (I usually leave it for 15 minutes, or as long as it takes me to get everything else set up.)
When the flour is cold to the touch, return the bowl to the food processor. Add the grated or cubed butter to the bowl & pulse a few times until the butter is mixed in & about the size of peas (it’ll be a bit smaller if you’re using the grated shavings instead of cubes). Add the egg, vodka (if using) & 1 tablespoon of the ice water. Pulse to combine. Add 2-3 more tablespoons of water & pulse to combine. Test the dough — if it’s coming together & stays together when you pinch it between your fingers, it’s ready. Otherwise, add more water about a tablespoon at a time until the dough is no longer dry. (I usually use 5-6 tablespoons of water total.)
Pour the crumbly dough onto a piece of plastic wrap. Use your hands to bring all the bits of dough together & shape into a disk. Tightly wrap in the plastic & refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. (You can do this a day or so ahead of time, too.)
Prep the filling: Snap off the woody stems of the asparagus stalks & slice into equal pieces about 1-inch long. Slice the rhubarb to match the length & width of the asparagus. (If your stalks are very fat, about an inch or more thick, slice them length-wise the way you’d slice celery. If your stalks are very thin, about the same thickness as the asparagus spears, then slice those stalks into 1-inch long pieces as you did with the asparagus.) Set aside.
Mix together the soft cream cheese & the heavy cream. Fold in the shallots, chives, blue cheese & walnuts. Season with a sprinkle of salt & pepper. Set aside. (Don’t refrigerate, unless you’re making everything ahead & you’re planning to bake the tart on another day. If you do, make sure to take the spread out with enough time to come to room temp. It’ll be much easier to spread when it’s softer.)
Make the galette: Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Remove the pie disk from the fridge & unwrap. Generously flour a piece of parchment paper & dust both sides of the dough with flour. Roll the dough out to a 12-inch circle, flouring occasionally to prevent sticking. (It helps to also flip the dough over once or twice & re-flour the parchment & the dough.) Trim any shaggy ends if you want the edges cleaner.
Spread the cheese mixture on the dough, leaving about an inch edge on each side. Then layer the rhubarb & asparagus slices. You can do them in straight lines or a chevron pattern like I did. (It helps to lay out all the pieces on a cutting board in advance & then you can transfer each slice over row by row.) Press each slice down gently into the cheese.
Once all the rows are arranged, very lightly drizzle olive oil over top of the rhubarb & asparagus. Sprinkle with salt & pepper.
Gently fold over the edges of the galette. (It helps to use the parchment paper to lift & fold, peeling away once the edge is in place. If you find your dough is too soft & sticky, transfer the parchment paper with the unfinished galette to a baking sheet or plate & put in the freezer for a few minutes, just enough to firm up the butter & make it a little less sticky.)
Once all the edges are folded over & in place, slide the finished galette onto a baking sheet (if you haven’t done so already) & chill in the freezer for about 10 minutes.
Brush the edges with heavy cream. Bake for 35 minutes until the cheese is bubbly & the crust is golden brown.
Let the galette cool for a few minutes. Slice & serve with a big green salad on the side.
The weirdest things are always the best things.
Where’s your will to be weird?
— Jim Morrison