Ten years ago, David Lebovitz packed up his most treasured cookbooks, a well-worn cast-iron skillet, and his laptop and moved to Paris. In that time, culinary culture of France has shifted as a new generation of chefs and home cooks—most notably in Paris—incorporates ingredients and techniques from around the world into traditional French dishes. In My Paris Kitchen (Ten Speed Press, 2014), Lebovitz remasters classic French dishes in a way that reflects the modern Parisian diet. This excerpt, from the “Appetizers” section, gives a step-by-step Onion Tart Recipe with simple ingredients and complex flavors.
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Onion Tart Recipe
Pissaladière should be crisp and very thin, not thick and bready. Full-flavored onions are strewn over the top along with strips of anchovies and Niçoise olives, which are worth tracking down. If you can’t find them, another oily French olive will do, or even chopped kalamatas—although don’t tell the people in Provence that you are using Greek olives on their beloved onion tart. They probably also don’t want to know that most of the Niçoise olives are now cultivated in Spain, either. The French don’t normally pit olives, and indeed, pitting tiny Niçoise olives can make them dry out during baking. So feel free to leave them whole—and alert unsuspecting guests to watch out for pits (and ice, if you serve this with iced rosé, as you should).
- 3/4 cup (180ml) tepid water
- 1 teapoon active dry yeast
- 2 cups (280g) all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt
- 4 tablespoons (60ml) olive oil, plus more for brushing over the crust
- 3 pounds (1.25kg) onions, peeled and thinly sliced
- 10 sprigs thyme
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 30 Niçoise olives, or 20 larger olives, pitted or unpitted
- 16 good-quality oil-packed anchovy fillets
1. To make the crust, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook (or in a large bowl, by hand), combine the water, yeast, and 1/2 cup (70g) of the flour. Let stand 15 minutes, until little bubbles appear on the surface.
2. Stir in the remaining 1-1/2 cups (210g) of flour, the olive oil, and the salt. Knead on medium speed for 5 minutes, until the dough is a smooth ball. Oil a bowl, drop in the dough, and turn it so the oiled side is up. Drape a kitchen towel over the top and let the dough rise in a warm place for about an hour, or until the dough has doubled in volume.
3. Meanwhile, make the topping by heating 3 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions, thyme, garlic, salt, and sugar. Cook, stirring infrequently during the first half hour, then, as the onions cook down, stir more often, until the onions are deep golden-brown. (If they start to burn on the bottom, add more olive oil.) It will take about an hour for them to reach this stage. Stir in a few grinds of the peppermill and remove from the heat. Once cool, pluck out the thyme.
4. To assemble and bake the onion tart, preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (200 degrees Celsius) and line a (13 by 18-inch/33 by 4cm) baking sheet with parchment paper.
5. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and stretch the dough with your hands in an oval about 12 inches (30cm) long. Let rest for 15 minutes.
6. Transfer the dough to the baking sheet. Pull the dough with your hands until it reaches the sides of the pan. Spread the caramelized onions over the dough, leaving a very narrow rim around the edges. Dot with the olives, lay the anchovies over the top either haphazardly or in a decorative crisscross pattern, and drizzle with the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Bake for 20 minutes, until the crust is lightly browned. Remove from the oven and slide the tart off the banking sheet and parchment paper onto a cooling rack. Brush a little olive oil over the crust and cut into squares or rectangles. Serve warm or at room temperature with glasses of rosé, iced, of course.
More From My Paris Kitchen
Reprinted with permission from My Paris Kitchen: Recipes and Stories by David Lebovitz and published by Ten Speed Press, 2014. Buy this book from our store: My Paris Kitchen.