I started writing French in a Flash Classics because one reader wanted to know the recipe for pissaladière. I am happy to share mine here.
Pissaladière has played a big role in my life. My mother has been feeding various versions of it to me my entire life. It was part of my final exam in cooking school. And last summer in Nice I had what I consider the most authentic version of it I ever had on a street corner in the old part of town.
Pissaladière is a tart made on either a pizza-like dough or puff pastry. It can be rectangular or circular, though I find the rectangular more common. It is similar to pizza, except instead of sauce there's a bed of sweet caramelized onions. Instead of cheese or toppings, there is a harlequin pattern of anchovy fillets and niçoise olives. It's the perfect combination of sweet and salty, and the crust is doughy, chewy, and crispy all at once. It's so satisfying as an afternoon snack, or as a light meal with a glass of chilled wine.
I have two secrets to my pissaladière: buy the dough, and soak the anchovies in milk. If you do those two things, you can't go wrong. Cheers to a French Riviera lunch!
Note: Traditionally, pissaladières are designed in harlequin diamonds or sun-like rays, so use your creativity when applying the toppings.
- 1 pound store-bought or homemade pizza dough
- Olive oil or nonstick spray
- 1 (2-ounce) can anchovies packed in olive oil
- 1/2 cup milk
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 4 medium onions, thinly sliced (about 4 cups)
- Kosher salt
- 19 pitted Niçoise olives
- 2 stems fresh thyme
Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat the oven to 475°F. Shape dough into ball and place in medium bowl coated lightly with olive oil or nonstick spray. Cover tightly with plastic and set aside at room temperature.
Combine anchovy filets and milk in small bowl and set aside. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil to heavy-bottomed 12-inch sauté pan and heat over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onions and season to taste with salt. Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring frequently until golden brown, about 40 minutes. If onions start to turn black, stir in one tablespoon water and continue to cook. Transfer to small bowl and allow to cool to room temperature.
Roll dough on well-floured work surface with rolling pin into even circle about 12-inches in diameter and 1/2-inch thick. Transfer to rimmed baking sheet. Spread onions evenly over surface, leaving one-inch border.
Rinse anchovies gently in running water. Scatter anchovies, olives, and thyme sprigs over surface of pizza (see note) Season lightly with salt (anchovies and olives are salty), and drizzle with remaining tablespoon olive oil. Bake until the crust is golden, puffed, and crisp, about 15 minutes. Serve immediately.