I’ve added a little love from Tuscany to this classic springtime combination of strawberries and rhubarb. The “Oh my God!” balsamic vinegar that I brought back from my day at the Verrazzano Winery is the Tuscany part. I used it to macerate the rhubarb and strawberries. Then I used the sweet liquids from the maceration process to make a sweet and slightly tart and thick syrup, which is perfect over vanilla ice cream and drizzled over this galette. The flavors in the syrup are the same blend of those in the tart and intensify the taste with each forkful.
Surrounded by a flaky buttery crust, the opposite flavors of the sweet strawberries and tart rhubarb combine to create a balanced bite. I added what I call a “bed of crumbs” to the base of the dessert. The bed is made up of crushed gingersnap cookies and finely chopped almonds. I placed the “bed” on top of the rolled out crust dough and placed the fruit on top of the “bed.” It captures and absorbs the juices of the fruit as they cook and prevents the dough from becoming soggy. It’s a method inspired by Jaques Pepin. A few years ago I watched him make an apple galette. He used a similar method to capture the apples’ juices. (I think he used equal parts of flour, sliced almonds, and sugar.) From then on, I’ve combined crushed cookies with nuts – varying the types of cookies and nuts depending on the fruit – to create a little “bed of crumbs.”
To me the galette is a blend of California and Tuscany, but you can use any aged good-quality balsamic vinegar to make this.
Strawberry Rhubarb Galette
(makes one 9-inch galette)
For the crust:
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
4-6 tablespoons cold water
For the filling:
2 1/2 cups rhubarb, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3/4 cup sugar, divided, plus 1 tablespoon
1 tablespoon aged balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups strawberries, hulled and halved
For the "bed of crumbs":
1/4 cup crushed gingersnap cookie
1/4 cup toasted almonds, finely chopped
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon water
To make the crust, mix together the flour, sugar and salt. Using a pastry cutter quickly cut in the cold butter until the mixture is the size of peas. (You want to do this quickly so the butter stays cold.) Sprinkle 3 tablespoons of the cold water over the flour mixture and gather the mixture into a ball. If you need more water, add it one tablespoon at a time. Only add enough water to get the mixture into a ball (do not knead or work the dough at all or it will be tough). Press into a round disk and place in the refrigerator for a minimum of 2 hours (overnight is better). After the dough has chilled, take it out of the refrigerator and roll it out on a lightly floured surface. Roll it into a 13-inch circle about 1/4-inch thick. Refrigerate for another 30 minutes.
Meanwhile prepare the fruit. Mix the rhubarb, 1/2 cup of sugar, balsamic vinegar, cornstarch, vanilla extract and salt together. Let macerate for 20 minutes. After the 20 minutes, add the strawberries and remaining 1/2 cup of sugar. Mix together and let macerate another 10 minutes.
Preheat an oven to 375°F and prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Take the rolled crust dough out of the refrigerator and place onto the baking sheet. Mix together the crushed gingersnap cookie and chopped almonds and place in a 9-inch circle in the center of the rolled out dough, leaving a 2-inch border around the outer edge. On top of the “bed” made by the cookies and almonds, add the fruit, draining off the liquid and reserving it. Mix together the egg yolk and water. Brush the border with the egg wash and fold the dough up and over the edge of the fruit mixture. Brush the top of the dough with the egg wash and sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar. Bake about 35 minutes, until the fruit starts bubbling. Remove from the oven and let sit for 20 minutes before serving.
In a small saucepan bring the liquid left by the macerated fruit to a boil. Turn down to low and boil for 2 minutes. Let cool (syrup will thicken as it cools). The syrup is delicious drizzled over the galette and drizzled over vanilla ice cream. Enjoy!