This dish probably dates from ancient Roman times, when coastal people found a way to use decaying salted fish, by using it as a spread for bread and topping it with sweet onions to balance out the salt. Thankfully, we don’t have to use decaying fish anymore, and if you love briny flavors, then this is the dish for you. Archeological evidence places Jews in Provence as early as the 1st century CE, probably around the time this dish came into being. Though documentary evidence dates to the 5th century CE, Jews remained in the area until around 1500. Some of the Baalei HaTosefot (Tosafists) – Jewish sages of the 12th -15th centuries – were based in Provence and happily discussed the produce of the area.
*If you want a speedier version of this recipe; replace the pizza dough with a sheet of defrosted puff pastry, and use store-bought tapenade. Roll out the defrosted puff pastry to fit into the oiled sheet pan, and lower the temperature of the oven to 200℃ (400℉). Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the sides of the pastry are puffed and golden brown.
**For a less salty version, cut the number of anchovies in the tapenade in half.
***For a vegan version, omit the anchovies from the tapenade and the topping but do check that the onions have a good balance of sweet and salty flavors.
- 1 ½ tablespoon active dry yeast
- 240ml (1 cup) lukewarm water
- Pinch of sugar
- ½ tablespoon salt
- 350-400g (3-3 ½ cups) strong white (bread) flour
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1.5 kilo (3.3 pounds) onions, thinly sliced into half-moons
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon herbes-de-Provence
Black Olive tapenade:
- 80g (½ cup) pitted black olives
- 8 anchovy fillets
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 10 pitted black olives, cut in half
- 28-30 anchovy fillets
Make Pizza dough:
- Have all the ingredients ready and measured out. In a small jug or bowl combine the yeast and warm water along with a pinch of sugar. Allow to stand for 5-10 minutes until the yeast has dissolved and the mixture starts to look foamy.
- Place ¾ of the flour along with the salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Pulse a couple of times to ensure that flour and salt are combined.
- With the machine running pour in the water yeast mixture, process until the dough forms two balls, about a minute.
- Dough should be moist but not sticky, if the dough is wet, add 1 tablespoon of flour at a time, process until incorporated and check again until dough is no longer sticky, but still moist.
- Remove dough from the food processor and knead on a lightly floured surface 3-5 minutes until you have a smooth dough. Place in an oiled bowl cover and let rest until doubled in size 40-60 minutes.
- Punch down the dough and knead for 1-2 minutes to remove all air pockets.
- Oil a large baking tray 46×33 cm (18×13 inch)(half sheet) with shallow sides. Set aside
- On a lightly floured surface with a floured rolling pin, roll out the dough to the size of the pan. Use the rolling pin to help lift the dough into the oiled pan, stretch the dough if need be to reach the sides of the pan.
For the onions:
- While the pizza dough rises, prepare the onions. Over high heat, heat a large saute pan or saucepan, either one will do as long as you have a lid. Once the pan is hot add the olive oil and heat until shimmering, add the onions, sugar, salt, and herbes-de-Provence and stir well, cook for 5-10 minutes stirring often until the onions lose their raw look.
- Lower the heat to medium-low and cook the onions covered, until all the onions are a uniform golden color and feel like they are starting to melt 20-30 minutes. Stir every 5 minutes to ensure that the onions aren’t catching on the bottom of the pan.
- Uncover and keep on cooking and stirring until all the liquid has boiled off 2-5 minutes. Cool completely
For black olive tapenade:
- Place the olives, anchovies, and garlic in a small food processor and process until you have a uniform paste. If your olives are too dry, you may need to add a teaspoon of olive oil. Measure out 2 level tablespoons of tapenade for the Pissaladiere.
- HEAT OVEN FOR AT LEAST 20 MINUTES BEFORE BAKING TO 250℃ (475℉).
- Spread the 2 tablespoons of olive tapenade over the surface of the pizza base. Top with caramelized onions and then use the anchovy fillets to create a large diamond pattern. Place half an olive cut side down at each place four anchovies meet.
- Bake on the bottom shelf of the oven, for 15-20 minutes, until crust is golden brown.
- Remove from oven, serve warm or room temperature. Best served the day it is made.