5.1 Pissaladière

Serves 6-8 as a starter

Anchovies! It has been often noted that I am a touch obsessed with these salty little critters, but they really are a magic ingredient.

This tart is a wonderful starter for a casual meal, garnished with a few lightly dressed salad leaves. It’s great for picnics and, cut into small squares, as a cocktail nibble. A glass or two of well-chilled Prosecco with as many pieces of pissaladière as you can snaffle is my idea of a cocktail party. Pieces can also be put out with a mezze or as part of a mixed hors d’oeuvres.


  • 500 g ready-made puff pastry
  • Flour for dusting
  • 3  –  4 large onions, peeled, halved and thinly sliced
  • 100 g good quality anchovy fillets in oil
  • 75 g pitted black olives, halved
  • ½ teaspoon of sugar
  • ½ teaspoon of herbes de Provence
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 25 g butter and a dash of olive oil for frying

  • Preheat your oven to 200°C / 390°F / gas mark 6.
  • Very gently fry the sliced onions in the butter and a dash of olive oil, adding the sugar and cooking until golden brown. This will take around 20 – 30 minutes.
  • Season the onions with black pepper and only a little salt (the anchovies and olives will add plenty). Set aside.
  • Flour your work surface and your rolling pin, then roll out the block of puff pastry until it is the size and shape to fully cover a rectangular 38 × 30cm non-stick baking tray. It should be about 5 – 7mm thick. (Non-stick or not, I always line my baking tray with a sheet of baking parchment so as not to ruin the surface when pricking the pastry or cutting whatever I’ve baked.)
  • Transfer the pastry to the lined baking tray and tidy up the shape so that it is a neat rectangle.
  • With the tip of a knife, lightly score a rectangle into the pastry about 1.5cm in from the edge all around.
  • Brush the band around the rectangle with the beaten egg.
  • Prick the inner rectangle all over with a fork to stop it from puffing up too much.
  • Bake according to the instructions on the packet.
  • When it begins to turn golden, remove the pastry from the oven and carefully lift out and discard (eat) the top two layers of the central rectangle of pastry to form a shallow well.
  • Pop it back in the oven for a further 5 – 7 minutes.
  • Spread the cooked onion mixture all over the well you have created in the pastry base.
  • Slice the anchovy fillets in half along their length and use these strips to form a diagonal diamond pattern on top of the onions.
  • Place half an olive in the centre of each diamond.
  • Season with black pepper, a very light sprinkle of dried herbes de Provence, and a drizzle of olive oil.
  • Lower your oven temperature to 180°C / 350°F / gas mark 4 and bake for 10 minutes, taking care that the edges of the pastry don’t burn.
  • Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Serve at room temperature.

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