Adapted from Saveur
Fact #1: The South of France is one of my favorite places on earth.
Fact #2: My vegetable crisper was full of onions.
Fact #3: I had two bottles of rosé in my fridge and no plans for the night.
Conclusion: Make pissaladière.
Pissaladière is an onion pizza from the Southern part of France, and it’s delicious and makes me think of summer and long beach vacations on the Riviera, which is typically how I roll when I’m not spending the summer days adjusting the speed of the fan in my windowless office.
The recipe takes a while to cook - there’s dough that needs to rise and onions that need to slow cook - so it’s definitely something to make only when you have a lot of time and a bottle of wine (or whatever your drink of choice) on hand. Pissaladière, like anything summertime and beach-related, is not to be rushed.
I need to point out several ancillary facts about the making of pissaladière relating to the copious amounts of onions used in the dish.
Ancillary Fact #1: You will feel extreme pain and discomfort while cutting the onions. Your eyes will burn and sting and tear until your face feels as if it falling off. Make sure you have clean towels ready and within reach so you can dry your face and maintain good hand-eye contact. Cutting onions requires handling a sharp knife, and whatever misery you might think you are experiencing with the onions pales in comparison to that of a sharp knife cutting through your finger. I speak from experience.
Ancillary Fact #2: Eating onions - cooked or otherwise - before bed will give you strange and vivid dreams like you’ve never before experienced. I can’t vouch for the accuracy for this for everyone (although five minutes of internet research seems to lend some validity) but I will say that after I ate a few pieces of pissaladière and went to bed, I had one dream in which my house was being surrounded and robbed by San Francisco hipsters and another in which my nephew and I were kidnapped and taken to a living doll museum where everyone dressed as if they lived in Colonial America.
Ancillary Fact #3: If, like me, you live in an apartment with subobtimal ventilation, you will wake up to a truly rank smell that will linger for an entire day. You won’t notice the smell while you are actually cooking the onions. In fact, you may, like me, think the smell of slow cooking onions is absolutely fantastic. It is absolutely not fantastic the morning after.
Consider yourself warned. You should still make this dish.
Pissaladière gets its name from an anchovy paste called pissalat. I don’t eat anchovies, so I went a little renegade and left them out of this recipe. It was still delicious. I used a small cookie sheet measuring 9” x 13”, but the recipe can easily be doubled, and leftovers freeze well.
Ingredients (makes nine pieces):
- 1 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup warm water
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 packet dried yeast
- 1/3 cups, plus 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 yellow onions and 6 small spring onions, or 6 yellow onions
- 1 tablespoon dried herbes de provence
- 12 black olives
Make the pissaladiere:
In a cup, add the yeast to the warm water and sugar. Stir to combine and set aside for a few minutes until the yeast starts to foam. Meanwhile, add the flour and 1/2 teaspoon of salt to a bowl. Pour in the yeast-sugar mixture and stir until combined. Knead with your hands until you form a ball. Coat with one tablespoon of olive oil, cover, and set aside.
Slice the onions.
In a pot, add the 1/3 cup of olive oil and the sliced onions and cook over medium heat for half an hour. Reduce the heat to low and cook for another 45 minutes.
You don’t want anything to burn, so make sure to stir the onions often, especially the longer they’ve been cooking. The onions will get golden and almost jam-like. Turn off the heat and set the onions aside to cool.
Add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil to a small baking sheet and spread to coat evenly. Add the dough to the sheet and press evenly. Spread the onion mixture evenly over the top, cover with plastic wrap, and let rest for another hour.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Cut the olives in half, removing the pits, and place on the top of the pizza.
Cook for half an hour, until the crust is golden brown. Let cool, and cut into squares.