Going for the "Go To" Meals #5: Pasta Pissaladiere
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Well, today has certainly been one of those days. The kind where, from the moment you climb out of bed in the morning, you feel like you're already running behind. And though you have been crazily racing around all day, you still didn't really accomplish that much. Yes.....today was one of those days. That is why I have realized at 11:00 tonight that it is Tuesday and I forgot to write my Going for the "Go To" Meals post for this week. If I write fast and keep it brief, I still might make it.
For this week's selection, I chose a dish I call Pasta Pissaladiere. Pissaladiere is a French version of pizza from Nice, in the South of France. A combination of onions, black olives and anchovies are baked on top of a bread dough and Voila! Pissaladiere. The word pissaladiere comes from the term Pissalat, which is a Provencal condiment made of anchovies pureed with thyme, bay leaves, cloves and olive oil. The Pissalat is spread on the dough before topping with the onions and olives.
In this recipe, I have taken the ingredients traditionally found in a pissaladiere and adapted them to make a tasty and satisfying sauce for pasta. I know you're probably rolling your eyes by now, saying, "Another pasta dish?". But, pasta is quick and easy to make. Plus, pasta can wear anything and still look (and taste) good. The key to success with this dish is to cook the onions on a medium-low heat, until they are very soft and caramelized. This gives them such a sweetness. It is a perfect counterpoint to the saltiness of the anchovies and olives.
Please don't be afraid of this dish if you don't care for anchovies. First of all, they totally dissolve into the sauce, so you can't see them. Second, the sauce does not taste at all "fishy". The anchovies provide a mellow, salty undercurrent of flavor. If you didn't know they were in the sauce, you probably wouldn't guess they were there. Trust me on this. I have served this dish to certified anchovy haters, and they all came back for seconds.
Serve with a tossed salad and a crusty loaf of bread, and you have a great casual meal.
3 tbsp. olive oil
3-4 large sweet onions, thinly sliced
1 tin anchovies in olive oil
1 tbsp. fresh thyme leaves
1 11 oz jar pitted kalamata olives, roughly chopped
1 lb. long pasta
extra virgin olive oil for drizzling (I usually use about 1/4 cup.)
salt to taste
1/2 cup reserved pasta water
grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano to taste
Fill a large stock pot with salted water and bring it to a boil. When boiling, cook pasta until al dente. Drain and set aside.
Meanwhile, heat the 3 tbsp. of olive oil in a large skillet or saute pan over medium-high heat. When hot, reduce heat to medium-low and the anchovies, along with their oil and mush around until they dissolve.
Add the onions and thyme. Gently saute until onions are brown and caramelized, about 15-20 minutes.
Add the olives and pasta water and heat through. If salt is needed, add it now.
Add the pasta to the pot and cook a minute or two for the pasta to absorb the flavors.
Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle on cheese. Toss and serve.