Pissaladière is a Provencal onion tart that normally features onion confit, anchovies, olives, and fresh thyme. I have given it a make-over using Karengo, a seaweed from NZ,which has a taste similar to anchovies when moist. This savoury dish is more like a pizza than a tart to look at, but there are several versions even in France, each region having its little variation.
3 onions & 5 shallots, thinly sliced
1 tsp raw sugar (optional)
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tsp fresh thyme, plus extra sprigs to serve
½ medium heat red chilli, seeded, finely chopped
Drizzle of olive oil, to taste
350g small tomatoes, juices pressed out and sliced thinly
160g black olives, such as Niçoise or Kalamata, pitted
25g Pacific Harvest Karengo fronds
I use the gluten free recipe from the fantastic ‘My Darling lemon Thyme’ blog .
For the traditional wheat base version:
100ml olive oil
150ml lukewarm water (100-110 C)
300g (2 cups) plain flour
2 tsp dry yeast
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp honey
If you make the wheat pastry from the ingredients above, combine the water, yeast, honey, and olive oil in the bowl. (If the bowl is cold, start with warmer water so it’s at least 100 degrees F when you add the yeast.) Add the flour and sea salt and stir until the mixture forms a sticky dough. Knead on a well-floured surface for 3 minutes until the pastry is no longer sticky. Cover with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for 45 minutes for the dough to relax. When ready to make the pissaladiere, roll the dough lightly with a rolling pin, then stretch it to a rectangle and place it on a baking sheet sprinkled with cornmeal.
Preheat the oven with a heavy-based oven tray to 200ºC.
For the garnish:
Heat olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add onions and salt to taste; cook gently, stirring occasionally until the onions begin to sweat & cook down. Add the sugar, garlic, thyme and chilli and continue cooking over low heat until golden & caramelized (about 15-20 minutes). Cool.
Spread the onion mixture on the base and place the tomatoes slices in a nice pattern, overlapping slightly; season with freshly ground pepper. Then, scatter the olives and the Karengo on top.
Bake the pissaladière for 20-30 minutes, at 180ºC or until the pastry is crisp & golden and the tomatoes are soft.
To serve, garnish the hot pissaladière with extra thyme sprigs and drizzle with olive oil if desired. Cut into triangles and serve hot or room temperature.
Note: I have found that Karengo is the perfect vegetarian alternative for all these Mediterranean dishes that use anchovies because the taste is incredibly similar when the karengo absorb the moisture from surrounding ingredients. The Karengo colour is most attractive on the dish – in fact more attractive than the anchovies originally used! Karengo is the nori from New Zealand and comes naturally in lovely purple hues, giving the dish a visual lift. It is said that the polyphenols present in purple foods may enhance the brain health & function.
Just a few remarks about the recipe:
1. The onions have to be cooked very gently over a longer period of time so they caramelize and not darken; dark onions will give a bitter taste to the whole dish.
2. Karengo is a very delicate seaweed with cellophane-like leaves that can burn easily as well. It is important to make sure the oven is not so hot as to burn the karengo. If you like your pizza pastry very crunchy, it would pay to cook the pissaladière in 2 stages: first the base with all its garnishes except for the seaweed at 200 C for 15 minutes, and then add the karengo and bake a further 10 minutes at 180 C.
3. For the pastry/ base, I mostly use gluten free alternatives, sometime gluten free pizza base by Venerdi or gluten free tortilla from Pavillion . You can make your own by hand or in a bread-maker with the recipes below.