A fabulous lunch (with a green salad) or a terrific opener for a Provençal dinner party
5 tablespoons olive oil
6 large white onions, peeled and thinly sliced
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt
4 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1/4 cup beef broth (optional)
1 recipe alternate pizza dough
24 anchovy fillets, soaked in water for 10 minutes
24 black niçoise olives, pitted
freshly ground pepper to taste
1/2 cup finely minced fresh parsley
1. Place 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over high heat. Add half the onions and cook over high heat until they begin to soften, about 5 to 6 minutes. Remove the onions, reserve, and repeat with the remaining onions and another 2 tablespoons of olive oil. When the second batch of onions is ready, return the first batch of onions to the skillet and stir together. Add the sugar, salt, and garlic, and cook, covered, over moderate heat, for 30 minutes.
2. After 30 minutes, remove the cover, increase the heat to high, and cook onions until dry, shiny, and brown, about 15 minutes. If the onions start to burn on the bottom of the pan, add a couple of tablespoons of beef broth or water. Reserve and let cool.
3. When ready to bake, preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Put the dough on the table with a little flour under it. Roll it into a long rectangle, 1/4 inch thick and about 12 inches by 20 inches. Coat a baking pan that's the same length and width as the pissaladiére, or a little larger, with the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Place the dough in the pan, and push it well in the corners. Spread the onion mixture evenly over the dough, leaving a 1/4 inch uncovered border around the perimeter of the dough.
4. Arrange the anchovies on the pie in a crisscross diamond pattern. Arrange the olives geometrically in between the anchovy crisscrosses. Sprinkle on freshly ground black pepper to taste. Put the pissaladiére in the oven, and cook until the crust is brown, about 12 to 15 minutes.
5. Remove from the oven, and sprinkle with parsley. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature. If you choose to serve it warm or at room temperature, let it cool first on a cooling rack (otherwise the dough will be soggy).
Pissaladière is a rectangular, open-faced niçoise tart, very pizzalike, which is topped with anchovies and olives. Tomatoes are rarely included, and cheese is never included -- but because of the similarity between the first five letters of the name and the word pizza, many assume some kind of historical link between the two dishes. The theory we believe is that pissaladière comes from the niçoise word pissala, which is an anchovy paste, and the Italians shortened the name of the French dish to name their own now-more-famous creation. Whatever. It makes a fabulous lunch (with a green salad) or a terrific opener for a Provençal dinner party. Makes 1 large tart, serving 10 to 12