Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Green tomato hoja santa galette

I vacillated for a long time over whether to follow through with my plan to use hoja santa in this. The other elements--green tomatoes, onions, bacon and goat cheese--are easy to see together (if you've been reading a bunch of savory green tomato pie recipes anyway) and there was a fair chance of ruining the whole thing with a wild card like hoja santa. If I only had to answer to myself and didn't need material for the blog, I probably would have backed down and just thrown in a little oregano instead. But that wouldn't be worth writing about would it? So, in that spirit, here goes...

2 thick slices bacon, chopped
2 green tomatoes, thinly sliced
1/2 medium onion, thinly sliced
3 ounces fresh goat cheese, crumbled
2 leaves hoja santa, deveined and chopped
salt and pepper

Crust ingredients:
1 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 Tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into chunks
2-4 Tablespoons cold water

1. Blend flour and salt in a food processor. Add butter and process until incorporated and the mixture has a crumbly texture. Blend in water until the dough just comes together.

2. Dump dough out onto a work surface. Form it into a ball, split into two, flatten and put into refrigerator to chill for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

3. Meanwhile, put bacon in a medium cast iron pan and cook over medium heat until well rendered, browned and crispy (stirring as necessary). Remove bacon to a paper towel.

4. Add green tomato and onion to bacon fat in pan. Salt lightly to draw out juices and cook until tomato starts to soften and onion becomes translucent. Add hoja santa and cook briefly to wilt and blend flavors. There's plenty of cooking later so don't overdo it now. Remove to a bowl and chill in the refrigerator until the dough is finished chilling.

5. Mix cheese and bacon into tomato mixture.

6. Take one of the dough rounds out of the refrigerator and, on a well-floured surface, roll out into 9-10 inches diameter circle. Drape the dough into a pie plate, optionally, to make it easier to fill. Fill with tomato mixture and fold excess dough over top. Spray exposed dough with olive oil and bake for 40 minutes until tomatoes have dissolved, the cheese has melted and the crust is golden brown. Cool for 10 minutes and serve.

The flavors here have pulled together nicely. Bacon and onions are a natural pairing. Goat cheese makes perfect sense with them. The green tomatoes add an almost citrusy tartness and the hoja santa an odd herbal aromaticity. It strikes an odd note just through its unfamiliarity. I'm still trying to decide if I like it. It's not bad, but is it an improvement over, say, oregano? ... Upon consideration, I think that when there's just a hint, it blends nicely with the green tomato flavor and counterpoints the smokiness. When there's a lot, it's weird and distracting. It's good, but I should have used less. One leaf would have done it. Two did seem like a lot, but with ten in the pack, I thought maybe I could use it more as a vegetable component than an herb. It's really too strongly flavored for that, though, at least in this sort of application. Maybe in a salad, though.


LaDivaCucina said...

I can't even believe you still have these leaves Bill! I love a nice galette but like you, still am experimenting with the best way to utilize this very strongly flavoured leaf.

What are you going to do for inspiration now that CSA is over?

billjac said...

I picked up new batches of hoja santa and betel at the Food and Garden Festival so these are only a week and a half old and in decent shape. I was off at a conference in the meantime so I'm only now getting a chance to use them.

Inspiration is harder to come by when you don't get a weekly mystery box, but that also means I have more freedom. I can make whatever takes my fancy so long as I can get the ingredients.

If I need to be inspired, I still read a bunch of cooking blogs and watch cooking shows where I can encounter interesting techniques and flavor combinations I might want to try. I've also got a folder full of interesting recipes that I set aside because they don't use CSA ingredients. As soon as I'm done using my Festival shopping, I'm going to start leafing through that.

LaDivaCucina said...

Yes, I understand completely about "freedom!" haha! I was getting a weekly box from an organic co op before the CSA started so this is my first time for 3/4 of a year that I can get what I want too!

I wish I would have had more time to enjoy the festival but had to work that night and then Sunday was too exhausted to go back. I did get a nice stick of sugarcane from Margie at her last day at the Overtown Market. Have a great idea too!

kat said...

I've never heard of green tomato pie but will need to remember it when we have a glut of them. This is going to be our first year of no CSA for awhile. I hope we can get enough inspiration from the farmers market

Karen said...

Great looking pie! Were those actually green tomatoes, as in unripe, or were they ripe green-colored tomatoes, or were they tomatillos? It can get confusing these days!

Karen said...

Oh, sorry - read the previous post after this post and saw your comment about tomatoes, so those are probably actually unripe tomatoes, yes? To answer the question there, they take a long time to ripen (30-45 days, depending on the variety), but if they fall off unripe (and otherwise undamaged) you can let them ripen on your counter and they'll still be better than store-bought. They also freeze really well, for use later in sauces etc.

billjac said...

Yep, those were unripe tomatoes from my garden (such as it is). I've seen some ripening since then but it's slow going. I think there will be a couple tomatoes ready to go within the week and a couple more a week after that. That if they survive the sun scorching most of the leaves off the plants. It's pretty brutal out there.

From what I've heard, I expected a huge batch coming ripe at once but it's all very gradual. Maybe the problem is people planting too many tomato plants.

Karen said...

This time of year, it's a kindness to put up something to shade the plants from the afternoon sun - they last longer and it gives the tomatoes a chance to ripen on the vine. Also don't give up on water and fertilizer for the plants - they need it to keep some leaves going! Whether organic or not, tomatoes are heavy feeders. Hope you don't mind a tip - seems like you might be sort of new to growing tomatoes in SoFL.

billjac said...

Thanks for the advice. I'm having a heck of a time with these tomatoes. One of the two plants just suddenly shriveled up and died while the tomatoes on it seem ok. The tomatoes are ripening to the point of rotting on just one side while the other side stays green. The two closest to ripe tomatoes I've harvested have very little flavor to them. A real shame to stumble so close to the finish line, and I really don't know what I'm doing wrong.

Karen said...

After healthy ripening, flavor is more a function of variety than anything else I've found. Some just taste better ... why heirlooms have come back so strongly. Quick death can be caused by so many things (one or more of several diseases, drowning or drying out, "heat stroke", insufficient nutrients, stem damage, root damage) it's best just to move on, unless it's something obvious that you can learn from. If they were in the ground, check the roots for evidence of nematodes (odd looking nodules)and if so, don't plant in that dirt again.

However once the plant is completely dead, the counter is the only hope for ripening the tomatoes, but if it was a disease they may rot anyway. Are you seeing the individual fruits staying green on one side and rotting on the other? That sounds like Late Blight, which is hopeless, and weather related, so what can you do?

I sort of hate to mention this place because I think they are over-priced and make claims that certainly aren't true for SoFL (this is not a product recommendation!), and if you get on their mailing list it's hard to get off, but this link (and their annual January/Spring catalog) have good info with pictures about diseases. Check out

If you're really getting sucked into this growing thing, Fairchild has classes in the winter and spring that are pretty good, and I think MDC does also.

I think this is why people plant 6-8 or more tomato plants, using 6-8 or more varieties and locations, in the hope that if one or two don't do well there will be others that will. But, sooner or later, they all die :-/

Hope that's not TMI!