Life Through Rosé-filled Glasses

I am well aware that, unlike asparagus, peaches and root vegetables, there is no ‘rosé season.’

But, for some reason, when the weather gets hot, we start thinking about that blush-hued nectar and one of us is bound to say, "It's rosé season!" It is only mid-June but our summer temperatures arrived a wee bit early - thus, the rosé has been flowing freely!

When we think of rosé, we think of Provence, the source of most of the finest rosés we have tasted.

I decided to make a light Provençal meal to go with one of our newly-purchased rosé wines. I looked for the perfect dish among several of my Provençal cookbooks - a pleasant task that brought back memories of the languorous summer days we spent in Lourmarin with Towny and Susan of The Modern Trobadors.

Several recipes caught my eye but one stood out, mostly because I had never made it and have always wanted to try: pissaladière.

I have not tried it because it calls for puff pastry. Until recently, I disliked ready-made frozen puff pastry from the supermarket. I had used wonderful store-bought versions in France, but not in the U.S. Now that I have found Dufour Puff Pastry, I am happy to use store-bought, but I really wanted to make my own for this recipe.

This was my first attempt at homemade puff pastry. I am eternally grateful to Paula of Vintage Kitchen Notes for sharing her recipe. It has changed my life.

I made a batch of pastry (it makes about 2 pounds), of which I am using half for this recipe. I’ve frozen the remainder for another day's inspiration. Today seemed the perfect, warm, sunny desert day to pop the cork on a nice rosé, and try a new recipe. Pissaladière has come to town!

For those of you who hate anchovies, you can simply leave them off. We both love them, and they make the most wonderful pattern on the tart. The recipe also called for Niçoise olives but out friend Towny strongly recommended substituting Moroccan oil-cured olives. Good call, Towny!

If you use frozen puff pastry, I will not judge you. Really. My puff pastry issues are my own. Using packaged pastry makes this a really easy meal to put together. All you need to do is caramelize some onions, spread them on the pastry, decorate with anchovies and olives and pop it in the oven. It's a {summer} breeze, not a {winter} mistral!

Pissaladière is often served as an hors d’œuvres with aperitifs, but we find it makes a nice meal with a rosé, followed by salad and a simple cheese plate with some dried fruits and nuts.

Salut! Santé! L'été est arrivé! Life is good, when seen through a glass of rosé!

~ David

A blend of several recipes.

2 tablespoons butter

3 1/2pounds yellow onions, peeled, halved and sliced
2 teaspoons Demerara sugar (raw sugar)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1 sheet puff pastry, thawed (or click here for the recipe)
20-24 anchovy fillets, packed in oil, drained
10-15 Moroccan oil-cured olives, halved and pitted
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme

Preheat oven to 350°F. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and Demerara sugar and sauté, stirring frequently, until the onions become tender and start to turn golden. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and thyme and mix well. (Do not be tempted to add additional salt - both the anchovies and the olives bring plenty of salt to the recipe.) Transfer the skillet to the preheated oven. Cook for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are wilted, very soft, and are well caramelized throughout.

Add the vinegar during the last 5 minutes of cooking. Remove the onions from the oven and set them aside while preparing the pastry for the pissaladière. Let them come to room temperature. (Can be made ahead to this point 2 days in advance)

Raise the oven temperature to 425°F. Roll out the pastry to 13-inch x 19-inch rectangle. Place the pastry onto a 12-inch by 18-inch baking sheet, folding the edges of the pastry over about 1/2-inch to create a raised border. Spread the pastry with the onion confit up to the doubled edges. Arrange the anchovy filets in a harlequin (diamond) patter and place 1 pitted half-olive in the middle of each diamond. Bake it for 15 to 18 minutes, until the pastry has puffed up, turned golden, and crisped.

Remove the pissaladière from the oven and sprinkle the olive oil and fresh thyme across the hot surface of the tart. Cut it into rectangles and serve very warm or at room temperature.

Serves 6 as a main course, 12 as an appetizer. 

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