Although it's similar to the Neapolitan pizza, the Provençal pissaladière derives its name from the ground-anchovy condiment know as pissala, a specialty of the coastal area around Nice. Traditionally spread thick atop the pie-shaped dish, pissala is now often replaced by toppings that include anchovy fillets, onions stewed in olive oil, black olives and sometimes bell peppers. The crust varies from a flat-bread-style dough to one made of puff pastry. The pissaladière remains distinctly French by omitting the Italian pizzas crown of melted cheese.
- 1 batch thin-crust pizza dough
- 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more
- 2 yellow onions, cut into slices 1/4 inch thick
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 fresh thyme sprigs
- All-purpose flour for dusting
- 10 salt-cured anchovy fillets, rinsed and
- 1 roasted red bell pepper, cut into 20 strips,
each 1/4 inch wide (see tip at right)
- 30 niçoise olives, pitted
- 1 Tbs. finely chopped fresh oregano or marjoram
Prepare a hot fire in a grill and preheat a pizza stone for at least 30 minutes, until the thermometer on the stone registers 500°F.
In a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, warm the 2 Tbs. olive oil. Add the onions, salt, bay leaf and thyme and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the onions are tender and translucent, 4 to 5 minutes more. Remove the bay leaf and thyme sprigs and discard. Let the onions cool.
Using a rolling pin or your hands, gently roll out or stretch 1 ball of dough into a 10-by-6-inch rectangle. Lightly dust a pizza peel with flour and lay the dough on top. Spread half of the onions evenly over the dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Arrange 10 of the anchovy slices on top of the onions in 2 lengthwise rows. Place 1 bell pepper strip across each anchovy strip. Arrange 15 of the olives in 3 lengthwise rows. Carefully slide the pissaladière onto the preheated pizza stone, cover the grill and bake until the crust is golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes.
Using a pizza peel, transfer the pissaladière to a cutting board. Sprinkle with 1/2 Tbs. of the oregano and cut into slices. Drizzle with olive oil. Repeat with the remaining ingredients. Serves 4 to 6.
Note: Use a mandoline to slice the onions quickly and evenly. A cherry pitter makes fast work of pitting the olives.