“The proper attitude toward a picnic is somewhat devil-may-care. You do not have to stand in the kitchen cutting perfect sandwiches and making perfect potato salad or frying chicken (although every once in a while an old-fashioned picnic is just the right thing). So what if all you have in the fridge is leftover rice, a couple of scallions, and a jar of almonds? You may have invented a lovely new rice salad, and no one will care if it is not their usual, because you are on a picnic.” — Laurie Colwin, More Home Cooking

picnicking

If there’s anything better than spending a summer night outdoors, it’s spending a summer night outdoors, in a vineyard, with a bag full of picnic food and blankets. Around here, our typical version of Colwin’s “rice salad,” tends to look like bread, fruit, cheese and chocolate, along with whatever leftovers or sauces or sides we can drum up on our way out the door. Let me tell you, nothing tastes better than that humble spread, set out in the fresh air and golden daylight, while you wave off gnats and listen to kids playing tag on the hill below. Picnics like these, to me, are summer—the very essence of longer days and freer schedules and warm air on your cheeks. You could eat grapes and bread in the car or or on the sofa or at the kitchen table, but taking them to grassy fields reminds you of the season you are in, of the time that’s moving ever forward, of the need to stop and savor it and drink it in.

It was on this Friday night picnic that Tim and I spread out our old blue blanket—the blanket we keep in our trunk at all times, the blanket that’s cushioned us in parks across the city, the blanket with us on the hot April day when Tim asked me to be his wife—and stretched out on our backs, staring up at bright, blue sky studded with cottony clouds. Away from work, from home, from everything, we wondered aloud about the seasons of life that are ever passing. Here we are, 30 and 32, praying and hoping for children, house-hunting, looking for new income streams. We mirror the stories of millions of other couples, other people, across centuries of time. Tomorrow, if it comes, we’ll be 40 and 42; then, 60 and 62; in our 70s; in our 80s; until one day we’re gone. Our lives are but a breath, moving so quickly, even when we want to slow them down, and we’re all busy with our stories and our ambition and our plans. You buy a house; you change a job; you move to a new town. Time keeps moving forward, regardless.

The next day, Saturday, we made ourselves a grape galette, fueled by the bunches of fresh grapes we’d purchased at Whole Foods’s Friday $0.99 sale.

grapes

I formed the crust; Tim made the filling; together, we piled grapes in the center of the dough and folded and pleated it around the sides.

forming and brushing grape galette dough

After an hour in the oven, the dough was gold and crisp; the filling, hot and soft. We slid it off the parchment and onto a cutting board.

finished galette

Fat slices on our plates while we talked about our budget. Second slices while we talked some more.

IMG_4315

Sunday, before lunch, we ate the last two pieces, and then it was gone.




grape galette 2

Grape Galette
Makes one rustic grape galette, with around six to eight servings

Because of the liquidy nature of the filling, we baked this galette on parchment inside a rimmed baking dish, which, it just so happens, was a tart pan. You could alternatively place the galette on a rimmed baking sheet; or, you could take a risk and put it right on an unrimmed baking sheet—if you do, however, know some of the juices may leak while the galette bakes.

Ingredients:
for the crust:
1 1/4 (175 grams) of einkorn flour (or spelt flour or all-purpose flour)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick of butter (1/2 cup), cold and cubed
1/4 cup of cold water
1 tablespoon of plain (nonflavored) yogurt

for the filling:
2 1/2 cups of quartered grapes
2 tablespoons of coconut palm sugar
2 tablespoons of arrowroot powder
5-6 sprigs of thyme (pull off the leaves)
juice of half a lime

for brushing the dough:
a few tablespoons of yogurt

Directions:
Line a rimmed baking pan or sheet with parchment paper (see headnote). In a medium bowl, combine flour and salt. Cut in the cubed butter with a pastry cutter or forks or, potentially, inside a food processor. Add water and yogurt; stir until it comes together; use your hands to form the dough into a ball. Roll out on a floured surface to be larger than you’d like your galette to be. I was baking in a 10-inch-round tart pan, so I made my dough circle slightly larger than that. Place on baking sheet or pan. While you make the filling, stick this dough in the fridge to keep it cold.

Preheat oven to 350F.

To make the filling, combine grapes, coconut sugar, arrowroot powder, thyme and lime juice; stir to coat.

Pull out the galette dough. Pile the filling in the center and fold the edges on top of the grapes, pleating it (see photos) as you do. The idea is just to get the edges folded up and over the filling to keep them securely inside while they bake.

Brush the dough with yogurt all over. This will give the galette a beautiful golden crust.

Place galette in the oven for about an hour, give or take ten minutes. Rotate once halfway through, and start checking for doneness at around 45 minutes of bake time.

Shanna Mallon started Food Loves Writing back in 2008, as a way to remember her grandma and write about her life through food. Since then it's become a place leading her to a lifestyle of eating whole foods, a new home in Nashville and the love of her life, Tim. Follow Shanna on Twitter @foodloves, keep up with Food Loves Writing on Facebook and stay inspired with the monthly newsletter.

This Post Has 24 Comments

  1. Erin

    You just always have a knack of hitting so many nails on the head all at once.
    My first comment: Gerrit and I have been talking about going on a picnic for ages and have yet to do it! Thanks for reminding me. :)
    My second comment: I love the way dinners tie us to life conversations. We had one of those last night, sitting at the table for an hour after we’d finished eating talking about budgets and next life adventures. I agree…the seasons move by so fast (even when we think we’re slowing them down).

  2. Marie @ Little Kitchie

    It doesn’t get better than picnics in the summer. Unfortunately, it’s been triple digits here in Dallas, even when the sun goes down! We’re escaping to Utah later this week and have definite picnic plans. :)

    Your galette is so rustic and gorgeous!

  3. Jacqui

    Can you believe I am married to a man who doesn’t like eating outside? Something about the bugs and the wind. I’ll never understand it. But I love that your picnic blanket is also your engagement blanket. What a great story to tell your kids when you’re picnicking with them. Someday…

  4. alexandra @ sweet betweens [blog]

    I’m wondering if maybe I leave a blanket in my car at all times, the husband and I might be a little more impromptu about beautiful moments like picnics and conversations in fields and parks and by sweet little creeks? I might hope so, as I think that would be a most fantastic way to spend the summer of 2013!

    And this grape galette? Beautiful. I’ve been most intrigued lately by grapes in things like pies and turnovers. Might have to try this one soon!

  5. Sophia

    Sadly grapes aren’t in season in Italy yet, otherwise I would be rushing to the store first thing in the morning to stock up so I can make this galette. I love galettes as it is but have not yet seen one with grapes and thyme, absolutely love the sound of this!

  6. felicia | Dish by Dish

    A picnic! A picnic! It’s been such a long while since I’ve had a picnic – I mean, I’ve sat out of grassy pastures during the summer, enjoying the warm sunlight that tints everything gold in sight, but somehow I’ve forgotten to joy of just grabbing a blanket, gathering some food and snacks and heading out to a park, enjoying the sounds of summer and snacking on its produce.

    And, love the stories that make up the history of that trusty blue blanket you keep in the car! :) ENJOY SUMMER!

  7. Kathryn

    I spent Sunday afternoon with my friends in the park having a picnic that lasted well into the night. It reminded me, as this post does, of the simple joy in eating outside. Everything just seems to taste so much better doesn’t it?

  8. angela@spinachtiger

    I’ve baked grapes with apples, but never by themselves and now I’m inspired. That’s Arrington Vineyards, the best picnic spot ever. Did you know if you keep walking up there is a spot no one ever goes to, much privacy. Anyway, next time you’re there, instead of turning into vineyard go down the road a mile or two. My friend’s farm is there and he has a stand. It’s opening this week. San Marzano tomatoes ready soon, and can make another wonderful picnic story.

  9. Jess

    Beautiful post, Shanna. We got engaged mid-picnic on a cozy picnic blanket that we, too, still use and love. You have such a beautiful way of looking at all the unknowns ahead – I see so much good ahead for you both!

  10. Amy Watson Smith

    I loved reading your post. It brought back wonderful memories to me of when my husband and I were newlyweds living in Washington, DC. Almost every weekend we would take a road trip to explore one of the many historic sights in the area and we usually packed a picnic. Occasionally we would stop by one of our favorite gourmet markets and pick up some special treats but more often we would open the refrigerator and “make do”. Those were the best meals! Thank you for the trip down memory lane and I look forward to trying the recipe.

  11. Pingback: Fall Produce Guide - The Sprouting Seed

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