You’ve got to love the onion. I sometimes feel quite sorry for it, often overlooked and accused of making our breath smell and making us cry but where would we be without it? It’s usually one of the first things we reach for when we’re cooking. It forms the base of so many dishes. The smell of frying onions will make most people’s mouths water. It gives a bite when used raw in salads or paired with some cheese in a sandwich. Softened and caramelised, it gives a sweetness to a dish.
And it is the sweetness here that balances the saltiness from the anchovies. I know I probably lost half of you there with the mere mention of anchovies and I admit that this dish really isn’t for everyone.
Pissaladiere originates from the south of France. Traditionally it involved a pizza like dough base but is now often made with pastry instead. With sweet caramelised onions, salty anchovies and olives, it’s simple but delicious. But don’t you often find that? The simpler the dish, the more chance it gives for the ingredients to really shine through. You don’t need to mess about with this too much. I added some rosemary – the only herb that seems to have survived the winter in my garden – to the onions whilst they were doing their thing in a frying pan, but some thyme could also be an option.
I didn’t even attempt to serve this to the toddler, she may be fairly adventurous with her food but I just couldn’t see her eating this. As it was Rich wasn’t too keen and found the anchovies a little overwhelming. It’s strictly one for the anchovy lover only.
Makes one large tart or 4 smaller ones
1 pack of ready rolled puff pastry
5 red onions, finely sliced – white would be fine too
A knob of butter
A little oil
Fresh rosemary (optional)
2 tins anchovies, drained, fat ones sliced in half lengthways
Olives, halved lengthways
You will also need a little milk for glazing the edges of the tart
Preheat the oven to 190c fan
Place the butter, oil and onions in a large frying pan with the rosemary if using. Caramelise over a low heat, stirring occasionally. Take your time, at least 20 minutes but much longer if you can, until the onions are very soft, almost melting.
Unroll the pastry. Leave as one sheet if you’re making one large tart or cut into four equal (ish) rectangles. Score a border just inside the edge of the pastry (be careful not to cut all the way through) and brush the border with a little milk.
Spread the onions over the base of the tarts. Arrange the anchovies in a criss-cross pattern and place an olive in the centre of each diamond shape they’ve made.
Bake in the oven for around 20-25 minutes until the pastry is golden.