Fruit, vegetable galettes bring seasonal flavors to Sukkot table

By Margi Lenga Kahn, Special to the Jewish Light

As with so many of our Jewish Holidays, Sukkot is rich with symbols, beginning with the sukkah, which we build to remind us of the temporary huts our forefathers built while wandering in the desert after fleeing Egypt. The sukkah also calls to mind the blessed bounties of the fall harvest, when farmers built temporary shelters on their fields so that they could devote long hours to harvesting their crops. And then there is the waving of the lulav (an arrangement of myrtle, willow, and palm) and etrog (an ancient citrus fruit) in celebration of that harvest.

Another tradition of this joyous holiday is the serving of stuffed foods, which celebrates the abundance of both the harvest and good blessings. Certain fruits and vegetables are at their peak at Sukkot: figs, pears, cranberries, grapes and apples; squashes, cabbage, potatoes, carrots and beets. This is why dishes such as stuffed cabbage, stuffed squashes and stuffed peppers have become standard Sukkot fare. Not only do these stuffed dishes showcase the fall crops, they are also easy to carry into the sukkah, which is no small matter.

My favorite stuffed dish for Sukkot is the galette, a flaky pastry-encased filling that can be either savory or sweet. Not only do galettes taste great and look stunning, they are easy to prepare and can be baked in advance.

On a warm evening, you can serve your savory galette at room temperature accompanied by a fall harvest salad of spinach or arugula, fresh figs, shaved fennel and carrots. If there’s a chill in the air, serve your galette warmed, accompanied by a large mug of thick soup made from potatoes and spinach. For dessert, your fruit galette can be served cool or warmed, lightly drizzled with honey or topped with a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of ice cream. You can vary the fillings for your galettes by showcasing seasonal ingredients from the market and combining them with other vegetables and fruits you may have on hand.

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While a well-seasoned filling will define your galette, a great crust will elevate it. As for the filling, be sure to taste it in advance and adjust the spices to your liking. As for the crust, the keys to a great one are: Avoid overworking the dough and make sure to chill the dough before rolling it out. Why? Because you don’t want the butter to disappear into the dough. Why not? Because as the bits of butter in the dough melt while baking, they generate the steam that creates the distinctive and delicious flakiness that is the essence of a great galette crust.

My recipe below is foolproof. It will guide you through the process. Even if you’ve never before made your own pastry crust, you can make this one. Trust me. But if you don’t feel comfortable making that crust, you can still make a tasty galette with refrigerated pie dough you can buy at your grocery store.

One final note: Feel free to substitute your favorite fruits and vegetables for the ones included in my recipes below. For example, if you aren’t a fan of butternut squash, consider using sweet potatoes, acorn squash or russet potatoes for the squash, or a half-cup of canned chickpeas, rinsed well and drained, for the grain. 

You may notice that these galettes are vegetarian. If you prefer a meat galette, you can substitute a simple well-seasoned and sautéed ground-meat filling.

Chag Sameach!

Margi Lenga Kahn is the mother of five and grandmother of five. A cooking instructor at the Kitchen Conservatory, she is currently working on a project to preserve the stories and recipes of heritage cooks. She welcomes your comments and suggestions at [email protected].