When Whole Foods Yorkville in Toronto offered me the chance to participate in the “Blogger Gobbler” challenge around Canadian Thanksgiving, I was intrigued. A challenge involving creating a holiday recipe with two secret ingredients – sweet potatoes & 365 Balsamic Vinegar. A challenge to say the very least. We had free range with what type of dish we could make from appetizers to dessert (!) and I thought long and hard about this and finally decided on a hearty main dish to make for our vegetarian guests over Thanksgiving.
So often a vegetarian’s lot during holiday meals ends up being a cobbled-together plate of side dishes and I wanted to make something special for our non-meat eating guests that everyone would be able to enjoy. Sweet potatoes with goat cheese was my first thought so I immediately imagined a free-form galette. But where to fit in the balsamic vinegar??? Recently, somewhere I tasted an onion jam made with balsamic caramelized onions (I can’t for the life of me remember where) and realised that it might work in this dish, at least with the goat cheese component. Wasn’t sure if it would be too rich with the sweet potatoes though…
I was extremely pleased with how this came out – the onions offer a subtle sweetness to counter the tangy goat cheese and the sweet potatoes give the dish some bulk without weighing it down – it’s a wonderful main dish for both vegetarians and meat-eaters alike (and was enjoyed by both at our Thanksgiving table).
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 45 minutes
For the pastry
- 1.5 cups whole wheat flour
- 4 tablespoons cornmeal
- a pinch of salt
- 125g very cold (not frozen) butter, cut into tiny cubes
- 1 medium egg, lightly beaten
- 6-8 tablespoons ice cold water
For the filling
- 400g sweet potato, peeled and cubed (1.5cm cubes)
- olive oil for drizzling
- coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 large Vidalia onion, thinly sliced in rings
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 4 tablespoons brown sugar
- 6 tablespoons 365 Aged Balsamic Vinegar of Modena
- 1 egg, lightly beaten for egg wash
- approximately 200g plain goat cheese (in a log) cut into 8-10 thin rounds
Make the pastry:
- Sift the flour into a large bowl. Add the cornmeal and salt and mix lightly with your fingers.
- Add the cubed butter and, using your fingers, lightly rub in the butter to the flour/ cornmeal/ salt until is resembles breadcrumbs with some pieces the size of small peas (you can do this in a food processor as well).
- Make a well in the middle of the flour mix and add the egg. Mix the flour into the egg until it just starts to come together.
- Add the water and incorporate until the dough just comes together. The dough should be firm enough to form a ball – it might be a little crumbly but press the dough into a disk and wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes minimum.
Make the filling
- Pre-heat oven to 350 ̊F.
- In a medium-‐sized bowl, toss the sweet potato cubes with the salt and pepper and enough olive oil to well coat the cubes.
- Spread sweet potato cubes on a baking tray covered with parchment or a silicone mat.
- Bake for about 30 minutes – the cubes will be very soft to the touch.
- Remove sweet potato cubes from the oven and cool on paper towel.
- Now heat the butter in a heavy frying pan over medium-‐high heat.
- Once the butter is melted, add the onion rings, and sauté until soft (about 3 minutes).
- Lower the heat and add the brown sugar, making sure to thoroughly coat the onion pieces.
- Once the sugar has melted, add the balsamic vinegar. Keeping an eye on the onions, continue to cook for about 8 minutes until most of the liquid has reduced and the balsamic and sugar has nicely caramelized.
- Remove pan from heat and set aside.
- Pre-heat oven to 350 ̊F.
- Grease a 10 inch quiche or tart pan.
- Remove the dough from the fridge, let sit for a couple of minutes, then roll between parchment or wax paper or onto a lightly floured surface until it is about 13-14 inches wide.
- Remove the pastry from the parchment and press the pastry into the pan (you might need to trim some of the pastry and the parchment around the edges).
- Take about 3⁄4 of the cooked sweet potato cubes and spread them evenly over the base of the tart.
- Using the back of a spatula, lightly press the sweet potato to mash it a little.
- Take about 3⁄4 of the goat cheese rounds and place them evenly around the tart base, pressing them into the sweet potato slightly.
- Take about 3⁄4 of the onions and scatter them evenly over the goat cheese and sweet potato.
- Place the rest of the goats cheese, onions and sweet potato cubes evenly over the rest of the filling.
- Fold the uncovered edges of dough up and around the filling, working your way around the galette. You’ll end up with pleated edges that are a little rough and you might need to trim some uneven parts to ensure you don’t end up with a thick area of just crust.
- Brush the edges of the galette with a little egg wash.
- Bake for 45 minutes or until the pastry is golden and the cheese inside is melty. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Who knew – sweet potatoes and balsamic vinegar – a match made in heaven!
I took smaller versions of this to the “taste off” event where the bloggers’ dishes were tasted and judged by a panel including Good Food Revolution’s Malcolm Jolley on taste, creativity and presentation. I don’t have a pic of the mini ones to share but dare I say, they were pretty darned cute 😉
And guess what? My dish was chosen as one of the Top 3!
Updated August 2020: This meant that the Whole Foods kitchens prepared my recipe along with the other two finalists’ to share with Whole Foods shoppers at the Final Taste Off Event on November 28 2012 at Whole Foods Yorkville’s in-store café. The first 100 customers voted for their favourite dish (and I won!)
This is still a staple in the Michels-Phillips household and a firm favourite amongst our vegetarian guests!
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