Summertime Tomato & Caramelized Onion Galette {#VegetarianRecipe}

Surrounded by a buttery, melt-in-your-mouth homemade crust, juicy vine-ripened tomatoes are cradled in tangy goat cheese dotted with citrusy thyme.

Take a big whiff of a ripe tomato just picked off the vine, still warm from the sun's kiss and tell me it doesn't scream, "Summer is here!"

Freshly picked garden tomatoes, summertime and my childhood, are intrinsically linked. Mom and Dad kept two areas of our backyard for growing vegetables year-round to help feed their growing family. Tomatoes were prominent in their garden, from Mom's large slicing tomatoes (her favorite sandwich is thick, juicy slices of ripe tomatoes between two pieces of super soft white bread) to cherry tomatoes for salads and Dad's Roma tomatoes, his favorite for salsas and cooking.

Like many Mexican-American families, tomatoes are the cornerstone of our favorite dishes. From chunky pico de gallo to spicy blender salsas, from Mexican red rice to tomatoey broths for soups, stews, and chiles rellenos, tomatoes in some form appeared at our family table nearly every meal.

With my parents and grandmother being expert gardeners, you would have thought I'd also have a bit of a green thumb. I do not. It's a struggle to keep the basil on the window sill above my kitchen sink alive, let alone a vegetable garden. Two years ago, my dad sent me home with a beautiful tomato plant he had grown from seeds saved from his most productive plant the year before. I dutifully cared for it for the first few weeks I had it but quickly allowed other things to take my time, and before I knew it, I'd forgotten about the tomato plant. I think I harvested eight tomatoes while Dad boasted about such a large harvest over most of the summer that he lost track of the amount.

My repeated failed attempts at keeping a vegetable garden thriving have forced me to rely on farmer's markets for my tomato fix. I initially developed today's recipe for a tomato galette after a trip to my local farmer's market. Gorgeous heirloom tomatoes caught my eye, and after carefully picking them up to inspect them and take a quick whiff, I knew they had to come home with me. 

To highlight the tomatoes, I had planned on making a Margherita pizza, my favorite. But I had forgotten to pick up yeast for the dough, so I pivoted, making pie dough for a rustic galette instead. My grandmother was still with us at the time – her love of tomatoes rivaled mine. I made two smaller galettes so we could each have our own for our lunch. She finished hers before I sat down to enjoy mine.

You don't have to have heirloom tomatoes for today's recipe. The main requirement is that you use the ripest tomatoes you can find. I often use vine-ripened organic tomatoes because they're the easiest to find at my local Sprouts. The size doesn't matter. What matters is that they are all consistent in thickness. I attempt to make even ¼-inch slices so that all the slices cook simultaneously regardless of their size (I sometimes use a mix of vine-ripened slicing tomatoes and smaller, sweet Campari).

Eating tomatoes for good health

According to an article by Michigan State University, tomatoes have many nutritional benefits. They help protect the skin from sun damage and can strengthen bones, improving bone mass. Tomatoes also play a part in regulating blood sugar. Some studies even show they can help fight several cancers and heart diseases and improve vision. Eating tomatoes can also lessen the risk of developing kidney stones and gallstones.

What is a galette?

In French cuisine, a galette takes on many forms:
  • Galette des Rois (King Cake): A frangipane (almond) cream-filled puff pastry with a hidden charm inside
  • Galette Comtoise (also known as a bisontine pancake): Made with choux pastry and scented with orange blossom, this dessert looks like a pie-sized pancake
  • Galette Complète: Buckwheat crepes stuffed with meat and cheese, the sides are folded over an inch or two, transforming the circular crepe into a square
  • Sweet or savory galette: This is what we're making today – a free-form pie baked on a sheet pan filled with fruit or savory fillings

The Ingredients

Tomatoes: Get the ripest you can find, preferably vine-ripened and organic. If you come across heirlooms, they'll make a wonderfully flavorful galette (a rule of thumb with heirlooms – the uglier they are, the tastier they'll probably be; also, don't overhandle them when picking as they bruise easily and their thinner skins can rupture). Remember, the tomatoes don't need to be the same size - you'll compensate for that when you slice them.

Crust: A galette is rustic and much easier to deal with than a fussy pie crust. You don't have to worry about what the edges look like, and no lattice work is required! You can use storebought pie dough if you must, but making it from scratch is easy, meditative and allows additional flavoring ingredients. I use King Arthur unbleached all-purpose flour. To add some dimension to the crust, I add a bit of freshly ground black pepper and a single tablespoon of sugar for a hint of sweetness and contrast. This recipe creates a super tender, flakey crust that crumbles and virtually melts in your mouth, which I love.

Butter: I prefer an all-butter crust for the best flavor. And, because the fat pockets give the crust a light and flakey texture, I only use European-style butter. It has a higher fat content than American butter and much less water.

Goat cheese: The combination of goat cheese and tomatoes is so good. I've used other cheese (grated Gruyere, for example) but always return to goat cheese.

Parmesan: I like the nutty saltiness that Parmesan brings to the table. I mix it in with the goat cheese.

Eggs: I add an egg to the cheese mixture. It does two things: First, it lightens the goat cheese, and second, the egg helps to keep the tomato juices from seeping into the crust, making it soggy. After I've assembled the galette, I brush the crust with eggwash, which adds a beautiful sheen and helps the browning process.

Caramelized onions: Second only to the tomatoes, caramelized onions add a giant flavor bomb to every bite. They're sweet, jammy and buttery. I use a minimum amount of extra virgin olive oil in a nonstick pan to keep the onions from being greasy. I also cook them gently over medium-low heat, stirring them every 30 seconds for at least 30 minutes, sometimes as long as 45 minutes, when I want them richer and darker (so, yeah, I pull up a chair, so my flat feet don't get tired standing watch). Please don't be tempted to up the heat and cook these in 8 to 10 minutes. Yes, they'll brown and even blacken at the edges but cooking them fast over higher heat doesn't give them time to release their sugars, just their liquid. So yes, you've got color on the outside, but the center won't be buttery and sweet.

And finally, thyme: Minty, lemony and very floral, thyme is an excellent companion to goat cheese, cutting the tartness while elevating the cheese's earthy flavor profile. Though often outshone by basil, thyme is probably my favorite herb to pair with juicy, ripe tomatoes.

Ready to cook? Here we go.

Step-by-Step photos: How to Make a Tomato and Caramelized Onion Galette 

Prep the tomatoes: Slice the tomatoes into ¼-inch thick slices. Spread them on a wire rack set on a baking sheet or over a kitchen towel.

Sprinkle salt over the tomatoes (I used sea salt). The salt draws out excess moisture that would otherwise make the galette too wet. Set aside until needed.

Also, at this point, remove the goat cheese and eggs from the refrigerator to give them time to come up to room temperature.

Make the dough: Whisk together the flour, sugar, freshly ground black pepper and salt.

Add the very cold cubes of butter.

Using your fingers, quickly smash the butter cubes using your fingertips, incorporating them into the flour. I prefer to use my hands instead of a food processor – I find this process meditative, and, more importantly, I hate using more cooking utensils than I need to because washing dishes is the bane of my existence. 

Once you have all the cubes smashed, pick up handfuls of the flour/butter mixture and rub it between your palms to help you coat as much of the flour as you can with the butter. I like to aim for a sand-like texture.

Add a couple of teaspoons of ice water and quickly bring the dough together, picking up clumps of dough and using it to pick up more clumps to form larger clumps. Avoid kneading the dough. You're just piling it on top of itself. Kneading develops gluten. Gluten is the enemy of flakey pie crust.

Dump the dough and any flour left in the bowl onto your clean work surface. Lightly press the dough together with minimal handling and no kneading.

Place the dough in the center of a large plastic wrap, pressing it into a disk about 6 to 7 inches in diameter. Wrap the disk up and pat it down a bit flatter. Refrigerate while you caramelize the onions (at least 30 minutes). Refrigerating the dough gives it time to hydrate and the butter to firm up again.

Caramelize the onions: Because caramelizing onions takes a long time, how you prep the onions is crucial to success. When you slice across the grain, you cut through the onion's cells, weakening their structure. As these onions cook, they soften and can even melt into the food, flavoring whatever you are cooking. Cutting along the grain keeps their cell structure intact, so they will hold up to longer cooking and, for short cooks, will maintain a bit of a snap when you bite into them. So when prepping to caramelize onions, you'll want to slice them along the grain. 

Begin by cutting the onion from root to tip. Carefully cut out the root end's core. 

Lay the onion cut side down and notice the lines running from root to tip—slice along these lines, starting at the line closest to the board. I don't cut straight down when positioning my knife on the onion. Instead, I cut angled slightly towards the center so it's more of a radial cut. Cutting this way helps maintain more even slices. Don't cut the onions too thin, either. Aim for ¼-inch thickness (you don't have to cut along the lines; following their direction is adequate).

Take a minute to separate the pieces once you've cut the onion.

Add a tablespoon of olive oil to a cold pan. Heat the pan over medium for 1 minute, then add the onions, lowering the heat to a medium-low setting. You don't want to add them to a too-hot pan. It's best to let them heat up with the pan and oil. After the first two minutes, shake or stir the pan every 30 to 40 seconds to keep the onions from burning and encourage even cooking. The photo above is what the onions look like at the 10-minute mark. They have begun to soften and just take on a bit of color. At this point, you can sprinkle the onions with about ¼ teaspoon of sea or kosher salt.

At the 20-minute mark, the onions start to turn golden, and the ends blacken slightly. Most people stop here, assuming the onions are caramelized enough, but the caramelization has yet to reach the inside.

At the 30-minute mark, the onions are all deeply colored, and the caramelization has penetrated the surface. The onions still have texture – a tiny snap when bit into one. For today's application, these have reached the perfect level of caramelization. Cooking an additional 15 minutes would make a softer, buttery finish. While continuing to cook 30 minutes longer would result in a delicious, dark, jammy finish. Set the onions aside for now.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator so it's pliable for rolling.

Prep the goat cheese: Add the goat cheese to a small bowl with one egg, salt and pepper. To remove the thyme leaves from their stems, run the nails of your thumb and forefinger along the stem against the direction the leaves grow (no need to try to remove the softer stems at the top of the sprigs, they aren't woody and have a ton of flavor). Run a knife through the leaves to break down the tender stems.

Add the thyme to the bowl.

Stir vigorously until the cheese mixture is smooth, then stir in the Parmesan.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Roll out the dough: Place the unwrapped dough on a large sheet of parchment paper and lightly flour. Roll the dough out to about a 15-inch circle. You're not looking for perfection here (an imperfect circle and rough edges are expected). Plus, the high butter content of the dough will most likely cause your dough to crack here and there. Simply pinch the worst ones together and continue rolling.

Pour the cheese mixture into the center of the rolled-out dough and spread, leaving about 1½ to 2 inches free along the edges (you're going to fold the edges over the toppings to keep them in place).

Spread the onions over the cheese.

Use a paper towel to pat the excess juices from the tomato slices. Lay the tomatoes along the edge of the cheese mixture, working your way around and in towards the center, slightly overlapping if needed.

Sprinkle the tomatoes with freshly cracked pepper.

Lift an edge of the parchment, using it to fold over some of the dough, overlapping a bit of the tomato to form a crust. Continue working around the edge, pinching closed more significant cracks if necessary.

Transfer the galette to a rimmed sheet pan.

Beat an egg in a small bowl and liberally brush the egg over all the exposed dough using a pastry brush.

Bake and serve: Bake for 40 to 50 minutes until the crust has a deep, golden color. The juices will be bubbling when you remove the galette from the oven. That's perfectly normal. You must let the galette cool for 15 minutes before slicing, at which time the liquid will have reabsorbed into the tomatoes and cheese.

When ready to serve, drizzle the tomatoes with a good quality peppery finishing extra virgin olive oil. My favorite finishing olive oil is Miller's Blend from California Olive Ranch's Reserve Collection. It's made with 100% California-grown olives. Garnish with a good sprinkling of fresh thyme leaves.

This tomato galette is a perfect light summer brunch or evening meal. Pair it with a simple green salad with a light vinaigrette and shaved Parmesan. To drink, I love it with a sauvignon blanc or reisling. Rosé is terrific if it's warm out, and if you prefer red, try shiraz or a zinfandel.

Summertime Tomato & Caramelized Onion Galette

When measuring flour, spoon the flour into the measuring cup instead of dipping the measuring cup into the flour. The latter method compacts the flour, throwing off the measurement.

Serves 6


1 pound organic vine-ripened or heirloom tomatoes
1½ teaspoons sea or kosher salt

For the dough:
2½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
3-finger pinch sea or kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
14 tablespoons cold butter, cubed
2 tablespoons ice water, plus more if needed

For the onions:
1 large yellow onion, cut into ¼-inch slices from root to tip
1 tablespoon olive oil
¼ teaspoon sea or kosher salt

For the cheese:
4 ounces goat cheese, room temperature
1 medium or large egg, room temperature
¼ teaspoon sea or kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 generous tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, tender stems OK, roughly chopped
¼ cup Parmesan cheese

For the egg wash:
1 medium egg, scrambled well

To garnish:
Finishing extra virgin olive oil, preferably with strong peppery notes
Fresh thyme leaves


Prep the tomatoes: Remove the core from the tomatoes. Cut into ¼-inch thick slices and place on a rack set over a baking sheet or kitchen towel. Sprinkle evenly with salt and set aside to drain.

Make the dough: Whisk together the flour, sugar, salt and pepper. Add the cubed butter and use your fingers to squish and mash them into the flour. Once there are no large pieces of butter, pick up handfuls of flour/butter mixture and quickly rub hands together to help coat the flour with the butter until the flour resembles wet sand. Add 2 tablespoons of ice water and start bringing the dough together, careful not to knead. Tip the dough onto your clean counter and continue to push together the dough. If there is still a lot of dry flour, work in more water, a teaspoon at a time, until most of the flour is incorporated; the dough will be crumbly. Press the dough down into a flat disk about 6 to 7 inches in diameter. Wrap it in plastic wrap, pressing the dough flat a little more. Refrigerate while you prepare the onions (a minimum of 30 minutes and longer as needed).

Caramelize the onions: Cut the onions as indicated in the ingredient list. Add the olive oil to a pan and heat for 1 minute over medium heat. Add the onions, lowering the temperature to medium-low. Let cook for 2 minutes undisturbed, then shake the pan or stir every 30 to 40 seconds for 10 minutes. Stir in the salt. Continue to cook, shaking or stirring every 30 to 40 seconds for 20 to 30 minutes, until the onions are a deep, golden color. Turn off the heat and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Remove the dough from the refrigerator.

Prep the cheese mixture: Add the goat cheese, egg, salt, pepper, and thyme leaves to a small bowl and stir vigorously until smooth. Stir in the Parmesan; set aside.

Roll out the dough: Place the unwrapped dough on a large sheet of parchment paper and lightly flour. If it is still too hard to roll, allow it to rest at room temperature for another 5 to 10 minutes. Roll the dough to about a 15-inch circle, lightly flouring the rolling pin as needed. An imperfect circle and rough edges are expected. Pinch the worst cracks together as required and continue rolling to size.

Assemble: Spread the cheese mixture onto the dough, leaving about 1½ to 2 inches free along the edges. Spread the onions over the cheese. Pat off the excess juices from the tomato slices. Layer the tomato slices over the onions working from the outside towards the center. Sprinkle with freshly cracked pepper.

Bake: Lift an edge of the parchment and use it to fold over some of the dough to form a crust. Continue working around the edge, pinching closed more significant cracks if necessary. Transfer the galette with its parchment to a large, rimmed sheet pan. Liberally brush the eggwash over all the exposed dough using a pastry brush. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until the crust is deeply golden colored. Remove from oven and let rest 15 minutes before slicing.

To serve: Drizzle the galette with a finishing extra virgin olive oil and garnish with fresh thyme leaves before slicing.

Until next time friends … ¡Buen Provecho!
xo, ani