As I rummaged in the freezer compartment, moving various mystery packages, I must learn to use labels, I came across a ball of pizza dough. My little creative light bulb lit up like a beacon and I set about caramelizing onions, mincing olives and pre-heating the oven to a toasty 500°.
The French call it Pissaladiere (Provençal Pizza). I watched the crew at America's Test Kitchen prepare this a good while ago. I guess, stuff on a crust qualifies as pizza. This version calls for niçoise olives and anchovies. I hate to disappoint my readers, but I had to forgo the anchovies for lack of supplies! I didn't have any niçoise olives either, but I did find four Calamatas floating in a jar, a half dozen colossal blacks and a few tiny Spanish salad olives. What a way to clean the condiment shelves! I minced up all the olives together and had a generous 1/2 cup to use as topping.
Meanwhile, the onions were giving off a wonderful rich inviting aroma as they caramelized in extra virgin olive oil, salt and a teaspoon of brown sugar to speed the process along. I used one fist sized sweet onion and two medium yellow cooking onions, sliced thinly and sautéed in a tablespoon of good olive oil over medium heat and sprinkled with a half teaspoon of kosher salt and the brown sugar. Once the onions have released their liquid, lower the heat and keep an eye on them, giving them a good stir from time to time, scraping up from the bottom to release the fond (that's the browned bits). See, in no time, we can all begin to speak like an experienced chef!
Instead of rolling out the dough to a thin disk, I stretched it gently into a 12" stoneware dish that I normally use for baking foccacia. This seemed to be foccacia-esque enough to qualify. I brushed the dough with olive oil and then layered on the minced olives,* followed by the caramelized onions and then sprinkled on a couple of tablespoons of crumbled goat cheese. I distributed a generous pinch of Herbes de Provence over the top (just thyme will do). Gave it a good grind of pepper and popped it into the hot oven on the very lowest rack for about 25 minutes.
*If using anchovies, chop 8 fillets, and scatter over the olive layer. Use a few whole fillets to garnish, if desired. I never desire anchovies. But that's my provincial Provencal taste. Cosmopolitan types will want the depth of flavor these little fishies afford.
This was the perfect accompaniment to a salad, rounding out the meal with just the right mouth feel of chewy crust, and salty topping.
The salad has a marvelous variety: hearts of romaine, unwaxed cucumber, sweet onion, grape tomatoes, roasted beets, toasted walnuts and crumbled goat cheese. It's lightly dressed with a drizzle of very good olive oil and a sprinkling of unfiltered apple cider vinegar, salt and pepper. Eating healthy isn't hard — you just have to be determined.
Till next time . . . Keep on cooking!