Every year I take time before the holidays to plan our White Elephant Christmas party menu as meticulously as time and an Excel spreadsheet will allow. It’s typically a buffet of 7-9 appetizers and sides (plus dessert), and I attempt to include something for everyone: meat-lovers, vegetarians, gluten-free, whatever. As I brainstorm about what constellation of items to serve, I try to think of foods that strike me as interesting and classy. Somehow I always manage to end up with at least one recipe that calls for goat cheese. Maybe I need to get with the times, but any appetizer made with goat cheese just seems fancy to me. (I know, 1999 called. It wants its party food back.) Maybe this is how my grandmothers felt about Jell-O in 1955. Or anything with the word “mousse” in it, like shrimp mousse or the ever-popular “ham mousse ring.” Does that just scream ELEGANCE, or what? I do wonder if in fifty years I’ll look back at my Christmas party menus and cringe. Goat cheese? WHAT was I thinking??
But for now, I do love me some delicious, creamy chèvre, and any appetizer that relies heavily upon it. Like this sweet potato goat cheese galette. (P.S. Can I also earn some fanciness points for making something called a “galette”?) Actually, a galette is just “a food prepared and served in the shape of a flat round cake.” In this case, sweet potatoes are thinly sliced and stacked in layers, alternating with goat cheese, parmesan, and a sautéed shallot-olive-oil-thyme mixture to give the effect of a flat round cake. A delicious, savory cake that pairs well with roasted meats or as a stunner on the Christmas/New Year’s party circuit. I know I’ll be serving it again.
Sweet Potato Goat Cheese Galette
(Adapted from Fine Cooking)
3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1/4 c. finely chopped shallots
1 1/4 lb. sweet potatoes, peeled (about 3-4 sweet potatoes)
2 tsp. coarsely chopped fresh thyme leaves
3/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 c. Parmesan cheese
1 c. crumbled goat cheese
1. In a small saucepan, combine olive oil and shallots. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce to a low simmer and cook 2 minutes or until shallots are softened but not browned. Remove from heat and let cool.
2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Coat the bottom of a 9-inch tart pan (a pie plate will work in a pinch) with cooking spray. If using a tart pan, place it on a baking sheet lined with foil.
3. Slice the sweet potatoes as thinly as possible, about 1/16th inch. In a large bowl, toss the potato slices with the cooled olive oil mixture and fresh thyme until potatoes are well coated.
4. Beginning at the outside edge of the tart pan, cover the bottom of the pan with one layer of sweet potatoes, making slightly overlapping rings. Sprinkle some kosher salt over the whole layer, then a quarter of the Parmesan and a quarter of the goat cheese. Repeat two more times until you have three layers of sweet potatoes, salt, Parmesan, and goat cheese. Top the last layer with any remaining cheese.
5. Bake on the foil-lined baking sheet in the preheated oven 40-45 minutes or until a fork easily pierces potatoes all the way through. (The top layer of goat cheese will brown a bit–this is okay.) Cool 10-15 minutes and slice into wedges.
Serves 4-6 as a side dish.