With people all over the world following shelter-in-place orders and the truth of our new, socially-distanced reality settling in, it’s easy to feel alone, afraid, overwhelmed, and helpless. One thing that has kept me grounded during this time of isolation and illness is the coming of spring. While the coronavirus pandemic devastates communities and reveals flaws in our systems of care, the earth is steadfast in its change. For me, springtime means gardening: sowing seeds and watching the seedlings push their tender heads through the soil, practicing patience as the plants grow into strong and productive sources of food. It is in times of crisis like these that the importance of traditionally undervalued domestic labor is clear. Cooking, cleaning, sewing, and gardening play vital roles in keeping our communities safe, happy, nourished, and protected during this difficult time, and I have personally found a lot of pleasure and solace in this work. (If you’re interested in starting your own vegetable garden, The Community Gardens of Tucson offer wonderful resources on when and how to plant various fruits and vegetables. If you want to start a garden but don’t have the space at home or if you’re just a little overwhelmed by the idea, renting a plot in your local community garden is a great option because you’re likely to have access to a wealth of community knowledge, gardening tools, and space.)
Paisley Rekdal’s poem “Happiness” is an ode to this type of home and community-oriented labor. In the poem she asks “Does it offend them to watch me/not mourning with them but working/fitfully, fruitlessly, working/the way the bees work, which is to say/by instinct alone, which looks like pleasure?” The “them” she is referring to are her neighbors, but perhaps the “them” is also our collective sense of right and wrong. Rekdal claims the dichotomous experience of finding joy during a time of grief. How do we hold both experiences in our bodies, our homes, and our communities? Rekdal goes on to write, “I can wait longer than sadness. I can wait longer/than your grief. It is such a small thing/to be proud of, a garden.” And toward the end of “Happiness” she says, “If I could not have made this garden beautiful/I wouldn’t understand your suffering.” Let us take the time now to make our gardens beautiful, to hold space for both loss and wonder. As Rekdal reminds us, compassion is a lesson that can be learned through practice.
I chose radishes as the centerpiece for this recipe because they are very, very easy to grow. Just sow your seeds into tilled soil and water them once or twice a day as needed. You’ll need to make sure the radishes have at least eight inches of soil to grow down into. If you don’t have the ability to or interest in growing your own radishes, they’re pretty easy to find in grocery stores right now and keep for at least two weeks in the fridge. Radishes get a bad rep because of their strong, assertive spiciness and cruciferous flavor, but I think that this galette will convert even the most passionate radish-hater. Roasting the radishes changes the flavor altogether to a sweet and tender root veggie. I mostly used ingredients that I happened to have in my fridge and cabinets. Galettes are wonderful because they are super easy to play around with. Here I am offering just one suggestion for a filling, but you can truly put anything you want in a galette and it will probably taste good.
Roasted Radish Galette
Use your favorite pie crust recipe, I like to use Emily Hilliard’s pie crust found here
Approx. 1 lb of radishes, sliced into ¼ inch thick medallions
2-3 tbsp. olive oil
Salt or garlic salt to taste
½ cup shredded parmesan
½ cup fresh milk cheese like farmer’s cheese or mozzarella (can sub for ¼ - ½ cup more parmesan)
Black pepper to taste
- Prepare your favorite pie crust and set the dough aside in the fridge for at least an hour or up to three days.
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
- On a large baking sheet toss your radish medallions in olive oil and salt or garlic salt. Arrange radishes in a single layer.
- Roast radishes in the oven for 20-25 minutes. The edges will get a little bit caramelized. The radishes will continue to cook once inside the galette.
- As the radishes are finishing up in the oven, roll out your pie dough into a round. It’s okay if your edges are craggy, this is a rustic pie. I like to roll my dough to about ½ inch thick.
- Transfer cooked radishes to a separate container and gently transfer your rolled-out dough onto the already oiled baking sheet. Put the dough in the fridge for about 10 minutes – you can use this time to prepare your cheeses.
- Once you are ready to assemble the galette, take your dough out of the fridge and sprinkle the ½ cup of parmesan in the center of the dough, leaving about 2-inches of overhang for the crust.
- Arrange your roasted radishes over the parmesan, once again trying to keep them in an even layer. Don’t worry if there is some overlap. Dollop your fresh cheese on top. If you are using parmesan instead of fresh cheese, go ahead and sprinkle that on top. Season with black pepper.
- Now it’s time to form the crust. Fold the 2-inch overhang up around the filling, leaving a bit of the filling showing through in the center. Your galette will form a sort of pentagon or hexagon once you’ve folded all the sides up.
- Brush the crust with a beaten egg and put it in the oven for 30-45 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.
- Let the galette rest for at least 15 minutes before slicing.
Poetry Potluck is written and curated by Poetry Center staff members Leela Denver and Wren Awry.