Citizens, I – the mighty and well-travelled TFD – was fortunate enough to first try this quintessentially southern French recipe in its birth-city of Nice.
A dish of potent flavors, it makes for an absolutely revelatory appetizer and can be served warm or cold, as you see fit – perfect for your next party!
Pissaladière is a dish which originated from Nice in Southern France. The dough is usually a bread dough thicker than that of the classic pizza Margherita, and the traditional topping consists of usually caramelized (almost pureed) onions, black olives, and anchovies (whole, and sometimes also with pissalat, a type of anchovy paste). Now served as an appetizer, it was traditionally cooked and sold early each morning around Nice.
The etymology of the word seems to be from the Latin piscis, which in turn became pissalat (via peis salat, “salted fish” in Ligurian and Niçard).
As noted on ifood.tv:
Not much is known about the origin of the dish but it is supposed to have been invented by the Roman cooks. During the 1300’s, seven popes resided in the city of Avignon in modern day France. Pope Clement who was a Frenchman refused to move to Rome and as a result, the entire roman court was moved to the new papal palace in Avignon.
Roman cooks were forced to deal with an entirely new set of local French ingredients which they had to adapt to their Italian repertoire of cooking styles. This adaptation gave rise to the Pissaladière or the pissaladina. Another legend states that the term Pissaladière is derived from the French word pissalat, which means salted fish which is one of the ingredients used in the dish.
Traditionally, the pissaladina consists of a bread dough base which is topped with olives, anchovies and caramelized onions. The base is made from chewy bread dough which can be bought readymade or homemade. Onions are sliced and slow sautéed and sprinkled on top of the bread dough base. Nicoise olives grown near Nice, Provence are preferred for this dish as they have a dark purplish-brown color. They are also less salty as compared to other types of olives. These olives are sliced and layered on top of the onions. This is covered with sautéed garlic, anchovies, sun-dried tomatoes, and assorted herbs and spices and baked till done.
The base recipe is from French culinary authority Patricia Wells, though I have tweaked the bread and amounts of ingredients, and added two uniquely eccentric touch – the use of a bit of spicy Olio Santo to add a fantastic bit of heat and herb flavor, and some rosemary-infused olive oil as well.
Battle on – The Generalissimo