Pissaladiere – French onion tart

We’re going to the Côte d’Azur later in September, where we’ve rented a big manor house with a gaggle of friends. I’m looking forward to the cooking – I’ve missed French market and supermarket produce since Dr Weasel and I left Paris to live in the UK again a few years ago.

I thought I’d cook some Provencale recipes before we leave, just so I feel properly prepared. There is nothing more Provencale than Pissaladiere.

Pissaladiere is a delicious, sharply savoury little tart made from crisp puff pastry, onions cooked until they are sweet and glossy, anchovies and olives. A traditional Pissaladiere would use a preserved fish paste called pissala rather than the anchovies. I did not have an empty Kilner jar and a few pounds of tiny salted fish, so this little tart employs some very delicious Provencale anchovies I found in Waitrose, marinaded in garlic and herbs.

To serve one person (double the recipe to serve two, but I shall be posting another tart for the other half of the puff pastry tomorrow which you might want to serve alongside this), you’ll need:

3 onions
½ sheet puff pastry from the supermarket chiller cabinet
1 large knob butter
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
Anchovies to taste
15 olives (preserved in oil, not salt)
10 salted capers, rinsed

Slice the onions thinly and saute them in the butter over a low heat until they release their sugar and turn golden and sweet (about half an hour). Don’t salt them; you’ll get all the salt you need from the other toppings.

Use a sharp knife to cut the rectangle of pastry in half. Set one half aside for tomorrow’s recipe. With the knife, score a line a centimetre from each edge of the pastry rectangle, so you end up with a smaller rectangle drawn inside it. The centimetre at the edges will be the puffy sides of the tart. Use a fork to make little holes in the inner rectangle. This will stop the part of the tart with the filling from rising.

Spread the soft, golden onions inside the inner rectangle. Lay the anchovies in a diamond pattern over them (you can slice them in half lengthways and use fewer for a less strong flavour; these particular anchovies were quite mild and mellow, so I left the fillets whole) and scatter over the thyme, capers and olives. I used a mixture of black, purple and green olives. Bake in a tray on a sheet of greaseproof paper at 200° C for 20-25 minutes, until the edges are golden and puffy, and the base is crisp.

This tart is delicious hot or cold. Try having one cold at a picnic, or making tiny Pissaladieres for a starter when you have a dinner party.

2 Replies to “Pissaladiere – French onion tart”

  1. Isn’t this tart just one of God’s great culinary gifts to mankind? Flaky, gooey, caramelly, and salty all at once. And easy enough to make after a day at work! I might make some for friends this weekend – thanks for reminding me about the recipe!

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