A speciality of Nice in southern France and similar to an Italian pizza, a pissaladière is an open tart made with either a bread dough or pastry base topped with onions and garnished in a chequerboard pattern with anchovy fillets and black olives. Traditionally, the top was spread with pissala from which the dish takes its name), a paste of anchovy purée, herbs and olive oil, and then baked. Some versions include tomatoes.

Ingredients

Bread Dough

  • 2 teaspoons dried yeast
  • 250 g (9 oz/2 cups) plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 60 ml (2 fl oz/¼ cup) olive oil
  • 40 g ( oz) butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1.5 kg (3 lb 5 oz) onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons thyme
  • olive oil, for brushing
  • 16 anchovy fillets, halved lengthways
  • 24 pitted black olives

Method

  1. To make the bread dough, mix the yeast with 125 ml (4 fl oz/½ cup) warm water. Leave in a draught-free place for 10 minutes, or until bubbles appear on the surface.
  2. Sift the flour into a large bowl, add ½ teaspoon salt, the olive oil and the yeast mixture. Mix until the dough clumps together and forms a ball. Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead the dough, adding a little more flour or a few drops of warm water if necessary, until you have a soft dough that is not sticky but dry to the touch. Knead for 10 minutes, or until smooth, and the impression made by a finger springs back immediately.
  3. Rub the inside of a large bowl with olive oil. Roll the ball of dough around in the bowl to coat it with oil, then cut a shallow cross on the top of the ball with a knife. Place the dough in the bowl, cover with plastic wrap or a damp tea towel and leave in a draught-free place for 1–1½ hours, or until the dough has doubled in size.
  4. Gently knock back the dough by punching it with your fist and then knead it again for a couple of minutes. (At this stage the dough can be stored in the fridge for 4 hours, or frozen. Bring back to room temperature before continuing.) Leave in a draught-free place to rise until doubled in size.
  5. Melt the butter with the olive oil in a saucepan and add the onion and half the thyme. Cover the saucepan and cook over low heat for about 45 minutes, stirring, until the onion has softened but not browned. Season and cool. Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F/Gas 6).
  6. Roll out the dough to roughly fit a greased 34 × 26 cm (13½ × 10½ inch) shallow baking tray. Brush the dough with the oil, then spread with the onion.
  7. Lay the anchovies in a lattice pattern over the onion and arrange the olives in the lattice diamonds. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the dough is cooked and lightly browned. Sprinkle with the remaining thyme and cut into squares. Serve hot or warm.

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