This French-inspired appetizer, pissaladière, is a bit like pizza: dough forms the base, with sautéed onions, tomatoes, anchovy paste, and olives to top it. It’s absolutely delicious and makes a simple, delightful appetizer.
I love to say the name of this dish: pissaladière. It makes me feel like my high school French is spot on, accent and all. Ha! It’s not, but it’s fun to pretend!
You might not recognize this traditional, Provençal appetizer, but it’s one I think you’ll love. Pissaladière (French-style pizza) looks like a pizza, and relies on sautéed, golden onions, tomatoes, herbs, and anchovies to bring tons of flavor to the table (no cheese, here).
This dish hails from the south of France (ooh, la la!) and is usually served as an appetizer rather than as a main dish. This reminds me of my parents (who are from Italy) who always say, “pizza is like dessert to us.” What they really mean is appetizer rather than dessert (slight language barrier), but whenever I hear that phrase, it makes me laugh!
Growing up, we never had just pizza for a meal. It was, literally, made and served as an appetizer. I mean, I’ll take homemade pizza as any part of my meal, even breakfast, so no complaints from me about pizza-as-appetizer! Another great pizza (or pizza appetizer) to try is my recipe for grilled pizza with fig, prosciutto, and blue cheese. It’s out of the ordinary and delicious.
Now, my pissaladière might not be exactly like the ones your French relatives make, but it’s pretty close to traditional — at least from what I’ve read. I never been to the south of France to try the real deal, but when I do go, I’ll be sure to pull out my best, “c’est magnifique!”
Instead of making the dough, I relied on prepackaged pie dough — only because I had one left over after I made a different, disastrous recipe. Rather than use whole anchovy fillets, I used anchovy paste to help make this pissaladière a little more palatable to the folks who say, “no way” to anchovies.
The anchovy paste adds a nice bit of savory saltiness that works well with the sweet onions and tomatoes. You won’t find melty, stringy cheese on pissaladière, but I swear you won’t miss it!
I hope you try this French-style pizza soon! Pissaladière makes a wonderful appetizer you’ll reach for often.
Patricia Conte/Grab a Plate
Yields Serves 4-6
You'll love this traditional appetizer. The flavors are amazing, and it's perfect to serve at your next get together!
- 1 (9-inch) prepackaged pie crust, thawed
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 cups white onions, sliced into thin pieces
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes, half the juice drained
- 2-1/2 teaspoons anchovy paste
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1-1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, plus extra for garnish
- 4-5 black, Mediterranean-style olives, sliced into half
- Nonstick cooking spray
- Preheat the oven according to the pie crust package directions. Spay a 9-inch tart pan with the cooking spray and place on a baking sheet. Gently place the dough into the pan, smoothing the edges up the sides of the pan. Remove any excess dough.
- Prick the center of the dough several times with a fork. Bake according to the package directions until lightly golden.
- Remove from the oven and set aside. Turn off the oven.
- Add the olive oil to a large skillet over medium heat. When hot, reduce the heat to medium-low, add the onions, salt and black pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally for about 15 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- After cooking the onions for about 10 minutes, add the garlic and the thyme. Continue cooking for another 5 minutes or so. When the onions are golden, add the tomatoes in juice, anchovy paste, and the red pepper flakes. Stir to combine, and cook for another 5-8 minutes, or until the liquid from the tomatoes has been absorbed and the mixture thickens.
- Transfer the mixture to the tart pan, spreading it out evenly. Top with the black olives.
- Place the pan back in the oven for about 5 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and garnish with fresh thyme.