Pissaladière. In order words… onion tart!

Recently I’ve had no time for blogging, but I have made time for cooking, so I’ve built up rather a stash of photos and recipes to choose from. As the weather here is showing tantalising signs of spring, I find myself shunning the hearty winter dishes, and instead thinking about sunny Mediterranean flavours, especially olives and anchovies, which have that ‘umami’ character that makes things so incredibly tasty.

Even though this French onion tart involves making the bread dough base, it’s such a simple thing to create, and tastes equally good hot from the oven, or eaten cold the next day. Here’s the recipe –

Pissaladière or Niçoise Onion Tart
Serves 6-8

275g strong plain white flour
2 teaspoons of quick yeast (the kind you can add straight to the flour)
1 teaspoon salt
250ml lukewarm water
2 teaspoons olive oil

50ml olive oil
1.5kg large onions, halved and thinly sliced
2 teaspoons anchovy paste
a small tin of anchovy fillets in oil, drained and halved lengthways
a handful of small black olives
salt and ground black pepper

To make the dough, sift the flour into a bowl and add the yeast and salt. Make a well in the centre and add the warm water and olive oil, and mix well into a soft dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 5 minutes until smooth and elastic. Clean the bowl, oil it lightly, then put in the dough and cover with clingfilm or a clean cloth. Leave in a  warm place for 1 hour until doubled in size.
While you’re waiting for the dough to rise, heat the oil in a large pan on a low heat, add the sliced onions and seasoning, cover and cook gently for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Uncover, and continue cooking for 15 minutes until the onions are thick and golden brown. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 240 degrees C.
Turn out the dough onto a floured surface and knead briefly, then roll into a rectangle and lift onto an oiled baking tray – the one in the photo was 40 x30cm. It might need a bit of pushing and prodding to get it back into shape. Carefully spread with a thin layer of the anchovy paste, then spread the onions over the top in an even layer, leaving a small border around the edge. Make a lattice pattern using the anchovy fillets, and place an olive inside each diamond shape. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, and leave to rise slightly for 10-15 minutes.
Bake the tart for 15-20 minutes until the crust is light brown. Serve warm, at room temperature, or cold. It tastes good whichever way you choose. I like it with a rocket salad and toasted pine nuts.


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