I’m back after a week’s break, and I think you’re going to like what I’m bringing to the Episode 6 party…
Pissaladière is a dish from Provence, in southern France. The origins of the dish are a little hazy, but it is thought to have been created by the Roman cooks brought to Avignon to serve under the Avignon Papacy, a period from 1309 to 1377, during which seven successive popes resided in Avignon (in modern Provence) instead of Rome. These cooks adapted their Italian cooking styles to a whole new set of local French ingredients, including the pissalat, meaning salted fish.
Traditionally, the crust of a pissaladière is made from a dough similar to pizza, but the first version I ever tasted, made by my French Chef Instructor at culinary school, was a quick snack made from puff pastry. The buttery, flaky crust pairs beautifully with the sweet silkiness of the onions and the saltiness of the anchovies, even if you do have to go outside to brush off your sweater after every piece.
And if my mention of anchovies just scared the bejesus out of you, never fear. There’s a non-anchovy option in the notes. (Dinna fash, I’ve got your back.)
Puff pastry topped with caramelized onions, anchovies and olives makes a deliciously rich appetizer or snack, served warm or cold.
Serves 4 to 6
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus additional
- 3 large onions, julienned
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
- ½ cup white wine or chicken stock
- 7 ounces (200 grams) puff pastry, thawed, but cold
- 1¾ ounces anchovies (50 grams), packed in oil (or more), halved lengthwise
- ¼ cup small black olives, pitted and halved
Move the rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 425° F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Heat the olive oil and butter in a large, heavy pan over medium. When frothing, add the onions, thyme, and salt, and cook until well softened and dark amber, about 35-40 minutes, stirring frequently and reducing the heat if necessary to keep the onions from burning. Deglaze the pan with the wine or stock, stirring constantly to bring up the browned bits from the surface of the pan. When the pan is almost dry, remove it from the heat and set aside to cool slightly.
On a lightly floured board, roll out the puff pastry to a sheet measuring 12 x 9 inches. With a paring knife, lightly score a border into the pastry, about ½ inch from the edge. Be careful not to cut the pastry all the way through. Transfer the puff pastry to the parchment-lined baking sheet.
Spread the onions evenly on the pastry, staying within the scored border. Lay the anchovies (see notes) in a lattice pattern across the top of the onions, then place half an olive in the centre of each diamond. Brush the borders lightly with olive oil.
Bake until the pastry edges have risen and are golden, 20 to 30 minutes. Cool on a rack for 5 minutes before slicing. Serve warm or cold.
- If you don’t have wine or stock, deglaze the pan with plain water. You’ll still gain a huge amount of flavour by scraping up all the brown bits from the bottom of the pan.
- I halved my anchovies lengthwise because I’m not a huge fan of the wee little fishies. If everyone at your table loves anchovies, then lay whole fillets down instead.
- If you’re vegetarian, or just CAN’T STAND anchovies, a jar of capers or sun-dried tomatoes is a great substitute. Lay them down in the same lattice pattern as the anchovies.