Dreadful name isn’t it? Apparently, according to Larousse Gastronomique, it is named after a condiment from Nice called pissalat and, no, that has nothing to do with overactive bladders and is in fact a type of anchovy purée mixed with herbs and olive oil. I always thought that the tart was somehow connected to that other beautifully named plant, the dandelion, known as a pissenlit (piss in a bed). Truly delightful language French sometimes.
But it is not a dreadful tart; far from it. One, it contains very few ingredients so you barely need to shop. Two, the sunny combination of onions, anchovies and black olives is bound to lift your spirits a little in filthy weather and, finally, three, if you use ready-made and rolled pastry there is, bar chopping the onions, no work whatsoever. The onions cook whilst you do something else and so does the tart. Piece of piss…sorry, couldn’t resist.
Pissaladière (adapted from Riverford Farm Cook Book)
(apparently for six but this made enough for two in my world…)
Cupboard (or things you may already have)
olive oil, 2 tablespoons
white onions, 4 medium
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
shortcrust or puff pastry, approx 200g (I used one sheet from a packet of Jus-Rol frozen ready-rolled)
anchovy fillets, 6-10 (from a tin or jar)
black olives, pitted, about 10
1. Peel, top and tail, half and then finely slice the onions.
2. Heat the olive oil in a lidded frying pan or large saucepan, add the onions, stir then cover and leave to cook over a gentle heat until soft (about 40 minutes).
3. Whilst the onions are cooking, lay the pastry out onto a baking sheet, score a line about 1cm in from the edge of the sheet (the pastry then puffs up differently, giving you more of a sense of a ‘crust’), and then prick the centre of the pastry all over with a fork. Chill it in the fridge for about ten minutes.
4. About ten minutes before the onions are done, preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan-assisted/gas 6.
5. Once the onions are cooked and soft, season them with a little salt and pepper, lift them out of the pan with a slotted spoon (otherwise you’ll end up with too much liquid) and put them into the centre of the pastry, spreading them out evenly to the scored line.
6. Put the anchovies and olives on top of the onions then bake for about 15-20 minutes until the pastry is puffed up and golden and the whole thing smells like a Niçois summer. If only…