This classic Mediterranean tart is best served with a chilled glass of rosé. Learn how to make this flaky and flavourful appetizer and impress your guests with its simple elegance!
I DIDN’T CATCH THAT…PISSALADIERE?
“A pea-salad-what?” I can hear myself saying. “A pissaladière,” my husband patiently repeats. I stare at him uncomprehendingly because I still don’t know what it is. That was nearly a decade ago. A pissaladière, if you didn’t know, is a summery tart that hails from Southern France. Nice, to be exact. I’m pleased to say that I can now pronounce it with ease, eat it with relish (not the condiment), and make it well enough that I can share this little-known appetizer with you. This is how you pronounce it, by the way.
PISSALADIÈRE RECIPE VIDEO
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WHAT’S A PISSALADIÈRE, EXACTLY?
Imagine a rectangular pizza, only, the dough is puff pastry and there’s not a trace of tomato sauce or cheese to be found. Instead, caramelized onions cover the base and anchovies intersect with each other in a crisscross pattern. If you’re feeling frisky, black olives are strategically placed, adorning the dish. All that’s needed now is a chilled glass of rosé to pair it with. That’s it, that’s all. Pissaladière and rosé. It makes an elegant appetizer on the terrace, but serving it with a fresh green salad makes it a complete meal. Stuck on what to bring on a picnic? Here you go.
PAIR PISSALADIÈRE WITH A CHILLED ROSÉ
I know it’s summer when my husband starts saying we should have a pissaladière and rosé wine. To him, it’s an essential summer pairing, and he’s right. It took me awhile to warm up to it, but now when the days start getting warm, I anticipate the summery tradition of clinking our glasses together and enjoying this simple meal. I don’t know what it is. Maybe it’s the simplicity of the ingredients or the balance of something that’s salty being offset by a glass of cold and crisp wine. There’s just something about it.
CARAMELIZED ONIONS FOR THE PISSALADIERE
Whenever caramelized onions come into play, there’s more than one onion that needs slicing. Caramelizing onions is the one step that might make you pause and wait to try this dish because it can take so darn long to get them to caramelize. If you want some free time to fold laundry or something, there are a couple of cheats. Besides, if you’re going to make a batch for a pissaladière anyway, you might as well make extra for another meal. Caramelized onions and mushrooms on a cast iron pan burger, perhaps? I digress, here are two ways to cut down on the time spent occasionally stirring onions.
CARAMELIZED ONION CHEATS
The Slow Cooker Method: This is my favourite method when I'm making french onion soup, but it's best for large amounts. We're talking a three pound bag of onions, at least. Toss the onions in butter or olive oil, lightly sprinkle with salt and set it on low for eight to ten hours.
The Instant Pot Method: I don't have one of these new fangled pressure cooker meets slow cooker meets everything-but-the-kitchen-sink contraptions, so I can't attest to this method. I'm not disparaging Instant Pots, by the way; I wish I had one! There are a ton of results that come up if you run a Google search, but I'm sharing this one because their caramelized onions look pretty.
The hands-off approaches are the only ones I will suggest. Caramelizing takes time, so it shouldn’t be rushed. Why sacrifice flavour for a wee bit of time? The onions practically take care of themselves anyway.
CUTTING CORNERS ON PUFF PASTRY TARTS
While I don’t cut corners caramelizing onions for my pissaladière and rosé days, I do save a whole lot of time cheating with the puff pastry. I’ve made puff pastry before, but that was with the aid of a laminator. You see, puff pastry is a laminated dough, which means it’s folded and rolled out with butter a bajillion times. In French it’s called pâte feuilletée–flaky dough–and that’s exactly what it is once it’s baked. The folding and rolling process is quite labour intensive, which is why there are special machines (laminators) that help get the job done.
My local bakery sells puff pastry, so I know I’m getting quality stuff when I buy it. Most large chain grocery stores have it available in their freezer section, probably somewhere near the phyllo dough. One box will make a couple of pissaladières, but there are other things you can make with puff pastry. Millefeuilles, for example. Have you ever had one? I’ll need to show you how to make them one of these days.
THE BEST ANCHOVIES FOR PISSALADIERE
Please don’t freak out. These little fishies are underrated. I was in a rush to make my pissaladière this year, so I grabbed what was available at the store. Big mistake. These were canned anchovies, which are the kind of anchovies pizza joints use, and boy, are they ever salty. Get the good ones in a jar if you can. Your local fish monger will have quality anchovies. If that’s not possible and all you can manage are the ones in a can, I read that soaking them in milk can help mellow them out. You rinse them after, of course, but does this help? You tell me. Of course, if you’re adverse to anchovies, you can always skip them.
PICKING OUT THE BEST OLIVES FOR THIS SUMMER TART
When making a tart that hails from Nice, use olives from Nice! That is, Niçoise olives. If you don’t have a good market near you, then use whatever black olives you can get your hands on. As much as I love authenticity, I winded up using Kalamata olives because they’re easy to procure. Don’t worry about perfection. Use what you can get.
GETTING READY FOR PISSALADIÈRE AND ROSÉ
Collect the ingredients.
Find a good bottle of rosé and chill at home.
Caramelize the onions in advance if you want to cut down on cooking time when making the pissaladière.
Put on a French vintage playlist. Here, I made one for you: Sylvia's French Vintage Music Mix
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS?
So tell me, have you heard pissaladière before? If yes, have you tried it? Is this something you think you would try? Is it too wild? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!
MORE RECIPE IDEAS TO USE UP PUFF PASTRY
4 large yellow onions, sliced
1 heaping tbsp unsalted butter
1 tbsp honey
Dash of whiskey (optional)
1 jar anchovies
Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium high heat and add the onions. Sauteé them for a couple of minutes and turn the heat to medium low. Stir occasionally for 20 minutes.
Add the honey and whiskey to the onions and continue stirring occasionally until they've caramelized.
Preheat the oven to 450ºF and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Roll out the puff pastry into a rectangle and transfer to the prepared pan. Prick the dough with a fork, but leave the edges unmarked.
Spread the caramelized onions over the dough, arrange the anchovies in a crisscross pattern and stud with black olives.
Bake for 20 minutes, rotating it in the oven halfway through. Finish by garnishing with fresh thyme, if desired.
Enjoy with a glass of chilled rosé!
PRINTABLE PISSALADIÈRE RECIPE CARD
- 4 large yellow onions sliced
- 1 heaping tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1 dash whiskey optional
- puff pastry
- 1 jar anchovies
- Niçoise olives
- Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium high heat and add the onions. Sauteé them for a couple of minutes and turn the heat to medium low. Stir occasionally for 20 minutes.
- Add the honey and whiskey to the onions and continue stirring occasionally until they’ve caramelized.
- Preheat the oven to 450ºF and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Roll out the puff pastry into a rectangle and transfer to the prepared pan.
- Prick the dough with a fork, but leave the edges unmarked.
- Spread the caramelized onions over the dough, arrange the anchovies in a crisscross pattern and stud with black olives.
- Bake for 20 minutes, rotating it in the oven halfway through. Finish by garnishing with fresh thyme, if desired.
- Enjoy with a glass of chilled rosé!