The classic Pissaladière is true celebration of the simplest of ingredients that give the most impressive of flavours. A thin bread base with a topping of slightly sweet confit shallots, salty anchovies and juicy olives (green, black, stuffed or a mixture!). It makes for the most wonderful light meal.
However, instead of using bread dough, my favourite way of making it is with a short-cut croissant dough, which makes an already special bake even more special!
You can make this using bread dough, but equally you can go for a speedier version with bought-puff pastry or a ready-made pizza base.
I also love making this with focaccia dough, adding a handful of chopped fresh basil leaves to the dough at the initial mixing stage.
You can, of course, add all manner of goodies to the topping: a few chopped pieces of sun-dried tomato, toasted pine nuts, fresh basil……..
For speed, I often use a croissant dough or even a bread dough that I’d made and frozen earlier: I always like to freeze some of my doughs for a later stage when I fancy quick bakes such as this.
I also like to make up a larger batch of confit shallots/onions/garlic, keeping them covered in oil in a screw-top jar in the fridge for a couple of weeks. Sometimes I keep the garlic cloves whole but at other times I slice them thinly and confit them with the onions or shallots: either way, you get a fabulously sweet-savoury treat!
With the dough and the onions made (or prepared well ahead) it is then just about the assembly, which can done in minutes if the shallots, anchovies and olives are ready to go!
The drained oil has a wonderful flavour and is also excellent for using in and for being drizzled liberally over focaccia or used in salad dressings.
Recipe: croissaladière – makes 2 large ones or 10 small ones
Quick croissant dough:
- one batch of dough – recipe here
Confit onions/shallots and garlic:
- 3 large onions or several large shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1 or even 2 bulbs garlic, peeled and separated into cloves
- a few sprigs fresh thyme or rosemary
- fine sea salt
- freshly milled black pepper
- about 100ml extra-virgin olive oil
- anchovies (tinned, marinated or smoked)
- a small handful olives (black, green or stuffed), drained if in brine
- freshly milled black pepper
Make the confit shallots/onions & garlic (can be made ahead – see above):
(1) Slice the shallots or onions thinly, put them in a small pan with the whole garlic cloves, a little sea salt, some fresh thyme or rosemary. Pour over enough extra-virgin olive oil to come almost to the top. Bring to barely a simmer and cook very gently for about an hour and a half. Leave to cool in the pan.
NB: you can instead pop the onions/shallot/garlic with their oil into a shallow baking dish, cover with foil and roast at about 150C(fan) for between an hour and 90 minutes until they are soft and squidgy with a deep golden brown colour.
(2) Roll out the dough to a rectangle just over 50cm by 20cm, trim the edges:
If making small ones, cut into squares about 10cm by 10cm – or any size you wish. Place on baking trays lined with greaseproof. NB: You can freeze these squares of dough at this stage, if preferred, wrapping them in greaseproof and topping them later from frozen – just give them time to defrost before allowing them to rise.
If making large ones, cut the rolled out dough in half and place on baking trays lines with greaseproof. (or freeze one piece for use at a later stage)
(3) Drain the confit onions and garlic, reserving the oil for a salad dressing or focaccia, for example. Scatter over the dough, along with the anchovies (casually dropped over or placed in a criss-cross pattern) and a few olives. Add a generous grinding of freshly milled black pepper.
(4) Leave to rise for about an hour at room temperature until slightly risen around the edges and bake in an oven preheated to 190C (fan) for 15-20 minutes until deep golden for the smaller ones or about 20-25 minutes for the larger ones.