Pissaladière is Provence's answer to pizza, a flatbread (sometimes with a pastry base) smothered with caramelized onions, zigzagged by a lattice of anchovies, and topped with Niçoise olives. Using my almost-instant pizza dough, it's easy to make for a meal or to serve, sliced, as an appetizer.Yum
I'm pretty sure I caught wind of the wonder that is pissaladière from whatever was on Food Network in the middle of the night while I was nursing a baby. What we're talking about here is a slab of bread (or pastry, but does it really matter?) covered with a whole mess of deeply caramelized onions scented with the herbs of southern France, then criss-crossed with anchovies and, for good measure, dotted with olives (Niçoise, if you're planning to be on trend). The version on TV was made with storebought puff pastry or pizza crust, which, with a four-month-ish old baby, was totally my speed. I was determined to make it happen, and I think the jubilation of successfully turning on the oven as a brand new mom, and making something delicious, imprinted it with extra love. And so, I've been making pissaladière ever since. The end.
Just kidding. This is me we're talking about, and by the time I had two more babies (at the same time; funny story), I had already gotten a totally from scratch version going. Then those two babies became toddlers and starting running in opposite directions and then something else happened, I'm not entirely sure what, and now it's today: and my pissaladière has morphed again, into a tachlis hybrid of the world's fastest pizza dough topped with gooey caramelized onions and, just for a touch of our erstwhile perfectionism, fresh rosemary and thyme. Sort of like being in Provence, but with more yelling and sticky fingers.
For a play-by play of making the dough, see the aforementioned Almost-Instant Pizza Dough, but basically, it's a simple dough with a little olive oil added and plenty of yeast, which is what makes it so speedy. (This recipe here is a half-recipe of the Almost Instant.) You knead away (I use a stand mixer) to form a craggy dough, then a slightly smoother one. Set aside for 15-30 minutes, roll it out, and c'est fini. No more rising.
Caramelizing the onions
I used to think you had to do something special here, something French or otherwise different from my standard shtetl move of browning onions before doing anything else. You don't. You just want to cook them down in olive oil with sprigs of herbs (fancy or lazy, you decide) and a good sprinkle of salt and paper, until they're very soft a medium to deep brown. This takes about 10ish minutes over medium-low heat and will probably require you to splash in water every few minutes so the onions don't burn.
Topping the pissaladière
This recipe makes two small pizzas, which makes a great meal for two or a terrific appetizer. The caramelized onions are divided evenly between the two pies.
It's traditional to arrange the anchovies over the pizza in a lattice pattern. To do this, you'll need a can of anchovies per pizza, or two for the recipe. However, I am a staunch supporter of the anchovy (#unpopularfoodopinions) and even for me, the lattice is a bit too much umami. If you don't mind forgoing the lattice, I'd recommend using just one can and dividing it as elegantly as possible between the two pizzas.
If you can't find Niçoise olives (I have trouble finding kosher ones), I think Mediterranean kalamatas work nicely. Scatter them on top (there are different philosophies about where in the lattice they go, so take artistic license).
Then 20 minutes in the oven (handily, the maximum anount of time my babies would nap unless they were on top of me) and it's time to conjure up beachside cafes.
Pissaladière - Provençal Caramelized Onion and Anchovy Pizza (parve)
½ recipe almost-instant pizza dough:
- 2 cups bread flour
- ¾ Tbsp instant yeast
- 1 Tbsp granulated sugar
- ¾ tsp salt
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- ¾ cups warm water
- 1 Tbsp butter
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 3 large onions - thinly sliced
- 2 sprigs thyme - plus 1 tablespoon leaves
- 1 sprig rosemary
- One 2-ounce can anchovy fillets packed in oil - drained
- 16 pitted niçoise olives - halved lengthwise
Make the dough:
- Mix all the ingredients together in a stand mixer bowl and mix, using the dough hook, until a smooth dough is formed, about 5 minutes. Cover and leave to rise for 15-30 minutes. Divide in half and roll out into 2 large rectangles.
Prepare the onions:
- In a large skillet, heat the butter with the oil over medium heat. Add the onions and the thyme and rosemary sprigs; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are very soft and browned, about 25 minutes. Discard the herb sprigs and fold in the thyme leaves.
Assemble and bake:
- Preheat the oven to 400°. Roll out the pizza dough into 2 large or 4 small pizzas on a lightly floured surface. Spread the onions over the dough. Arrange the anchovies in a lattice pattern. Place the olives and tomatoes in the lattice, if using. Top with cheese, if using.
- Bake for 20 min, until golden.