Creamy cashew cheese and a layer of pesto tucked under a blanket of roasted sweet cherry tomatoes all settled into a free-form, fuss-free flaky galette crust makes for an easy, pretty, and super delicious meal.
If making pastry intimidates you, a galette is the perfect place to start. No worries of getting the pastry to fit a pie plate, no trimming, no figuring out fluting or crimping or other decorative finishes, no blind baking…the beauty of a galette is its rustic look and free-form simplicity. This recipe is further simplified by using oil rather than a solid fat like vegan butter or coconut oil which would be cut in – the liquid oil is just barely mixed in, resulting in a lovely flaky pastry with minimal work. While I enjoy making more labor intensive pies and tarts, I’ve been on a serious galette bender lately – they’re just so easy!
The cashew cheese for this tart gets its zing and cheesy taste from dairy-free yogurt, a touch of lemon juice and some nutritional yeast, plus additional flavor from a few pantry spices. I’m a big advocate for using cashew pieces over cashew halves or whole cashews. Why? Well, two reasons – cashew pieces soften a lot faster when soaked, and the cashew pieces I’ve found are way cheaper than whole cashews. We’re talking 25-55% cheaper depending on where you buy them!
While I enjoy making my own pesto, I find myself more often than not using store-bought vegan pesto as a matter of convenience and price. At our local market, a tiny plastic clam-shell of basil costs almost the same as the fresh prepared pesto they sell, and I’d probably need about 5 or 6 of those little packages PLUS the other pesto ingredients to make my own. So, unless I can find fresh basil in bigger bunches at the farmer’s market in the summer or other stores which I don’t frequent as much, I’m going to go with the delicious vegan store-bought option. I get that this post is starting to focus on cost savings and that I might be coming across as a cheap-skate but I promise you I’m not, I just enjoy saving money especially when it makes so much sense (pun not intended!) And why not save a few dollars here and there – they start to add up over time especially where cashews and pesto are on heavy rotation like they are at our house!
Next are the cherry tomatoes. I considered roasting them first as I was worried they may make the galette a watery, soupy mess if they didn’t have some of their juices cooked out before assembling and baking the galette. When I thought about it more though, who wants a cherry tomato skin galette, which is what the galette might turn into if the tomatoes are roasted first; by the time the galette is baked, I wasn’t sure there would be much juice left in those little guys. So I figured that as long as the crust is cooked and browned nicely, the tomatoes would be in their perfect state just as they were bursting so this would be the time to remove the galette from the oven. And it worked like a charm! Now, if you have a bunch of thin-skinned, crazy fat, juicy heirloom cherry tomatoes, then you may need to watch things more carefully towards the end of baking and hopefully will be able to find a sweet spot of just barely burst tomatoes and golden, crisp crust. I tested this recipe with a mix of regular sweet cherry tomatoes, and while a few in there were thinner skinned, they weren’t as thin as heirloom varieties. If you are lucky enough to have some heirloom cherry tomatoes and use them in this recipe, I’d love to hear how it turns out! And know I’m really envious, as those sweet lil nuggets are like tomato gold! So good.
To put this meal together, you’ll start with the pastry. It’s a simple matter of mixing the flour and salt together then streaming in the oil and then the ice cold water, and doing a few big stirs. The stirs are actually more like folding the spoon down and under the ingredients, then bringing it back up, turning the bowl about 90 degrees and doing this again a couple of more times. The mixture will look a mess – streaks of oil, some flour still not wet. Don’t worry, this is perfect! Over mixing is the recipe for tough, flakeless pastry. Not what we want here at all – we want to barely mix things so gluten strands don’t develop and so we’re also left with thin layers of oil which help create the flakes! Next, we get our hands dirty by greasing them lightly and pressing (without kneading) the shaggy dough into a ball, wrapping it in plastic wrap and chilling it in the fridge for about 30 minutes or overnight if you want to get things started ahead of time.
While the pastry chills, you can get your cashews soaking. I do a cheater quick soak which involves covering the cashews pieces in water and bringing them to a boil on the stove, and letting them simmer for about 10 minutes. Alternatively you can soak the cashews in a container of water in the fridge for 6-8 hours or overnight. They can be stored in the fridge if you do this the night before. Which ever way you soak them, once they are ready, drain them, then pop them into a high-speed blender with the other cheese ingredients. If you don’t have a high-speed blender, you can use a food processor although the cheese won’t be as smooth which really doesn’t matter for this recipe.
To assemble, the pastry is rolled out to a rough circle, the cashew cheese is spread on top, the pesto is spread on the cashew cheese, and then the tomatoes are placed over the pesto. The sides of the galette are folded up over the first inch or so of the filling and then the whole thing is baked in a preheated oven for about 45 minutes while you go relax and congratulate yourself *cue excessive cheering* on making a pretty awesome, (even somewhat dressed up) meal.
If you try this recipe, I’d love to hear how you like it! Please give it a rating in the recipe card or let me know in the comments! I love connecting on Instagram where you can tag me in your creations using my recipes. You can also follow me on Pinterest and Facebook. Thank you for reading along!
Vegan Cherry Tomato Galette with Pesto and Cashew Cheese
For the Crust:
- 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
- ½ tsp salt
- ⅓ cup olive or avocado oil
- 4 tbsp ice-cold water
For the Cashew Cheese:
- 1 cup raw cashew pieces, soaked* (or 1 1/4 cups raw whole or halved cashews)
- ½ cup unsweetened unflavored dairy free yogurt
- 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- ½ tsp onion powder
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp ground black pepper
For the Rest:
- ⅓ cup vegan basil pesto
- 4 cups cherry tomatoes
For the Crust:
- In a medium-sized bowl, mix the flour with the salt. Slowly stream in the oil, and 4 tbsp of ice-cold water. With a fork, stir once in a folding motion, moving the fork over and then under the mixture. Turn the bowl 90 degrees and stir again but go through the middle instead of right under. Repeat this 3 or 4 times – the mixture will be shaggy, there will be streaks of oil and a bit of the flour will still be dry. This is perfect – if you over-mix it, the pastry will be tough and not flaky. Oil your hands and gather the dough, placing it in the middle of a sheet of plastic wrap. Shape and press it into a disc shape, then wrap tightly and refrigerate for 30 minutes or overnight.
For the Cashew Cheese:
- Drain the cashews and place them in a high-speed blender or food processor. Add in the rest of the cashew cheese ingredients. Blend until smooth, scraping down the sides periodically. The time this takes will depend on the appliance you’re using and how big the pieces of cashews are, ranging from 1 to 5 minutes.
- To assemble to galette:
- Preheat the oven to 375°F.
- Cut 2 large pieces of parchment paper, about 20 inches in length. Place one sheet on the counter. Take the pastry dough out of the fridge, unwrap and place the disk in the middle of the parchment. Place the second piece of parchment over the disc and roll out the dough into a circle with a rolling pin to about 14 inches across and 1/8 inch thick. To do this, always start rolling from the center of the disc turning the parchment or shifting your position to roll the dough in all directions until you have a rough circle. Don’t worry if the edges are jagged or uneven, this is part of the rustic appeal!
- Lift up the top piece of parchment and spread the cashew cheese over the pastry leaving a 2 inch border of crust uncovered. Spread the pesto over the cashew cheese, and then arrange the cherry tomatoes over the pesto. Gently fold up the sides of the dough over the edges of the filling, overlapping the dough as you go around pleating the dough.
- Slide the galette onto the round baking tray, keeping it on the parchment. Place on the center rack of the preheated oven and bake for 40-50 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown, turning the galette around half way through baking. Best eaten the same day while hot or once it’s cooled to room temperature.