School is nearly out, the sun is shining and the produce has changed from spring to summer. Nectarines, peaches, cherries, tomatoes and berries of all sorts have popped up in the shops. We are off to the south of France shortly to soak up the sun, swim in the sea and enjoy the splendid food. This part of France was for a long time part of Italy (or rather the areas which ultimately became part of Italy). Because of its historical ties, it shares some of the same cuisine as Liguria with its pesto, filled pastas and a favourite street food on a hot summer day, pissaladière.
Pissaladière is a caramelised onion, anchovy and olive topped bread. The name is derived from pissalat which is from “peis salat” meaning “salted fish” in Ligurian and Niçard dialects. On the Italian side, pissaladière becomes pizzalandrea or sardenaira and tomatoes were added after the Americas were discovered. The name sardenaira comes from the fact that sardine heads used to be an ingredient in the dish. Today anchovies are used. The name pizzalandrea refers to Andrea Doria, a famous admiralty and contractor for the independent state of the Republic of Genoa who loved this dish. Pizzalandrea has the soft crumb of a focaccia (which can be up to 5 cm thick), the tanginess of the tomatoes, the sweetness of caramelised onions and the saltiness of the olives, capers and anchovies.
Sardenaira / Pizzalandrea (focaccia topped with tomato, anchovy, olives and capers) – Liguria
575 grams flour
10 grams salt
6 grams fresh yeast (3 grams dry yeast)
65 grams olive oil
340 grams milk
2 onions, skin and ends removed, finely chopped
120 mls chicken stock (recipe here but use all chicken)
3 basil leaves
2 teaspoons marjoram (use half the amount if using dried marjoram), plus more for sprinkling
1 teaspoon oregano (use half the amount if using dried oregano)
500 grams tomato passata
17 grams (about 4) anchovies (can use up to 80 mls if you love anchovies)
1 garlic, skin removed and finely sliced
18 black olives, pits removed
10 grams / 1.5 tablespoons capers (if salted, soaked and drained)
Extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling
Mix together the flour, biga, milk, salt, yeast and olive oil until it forms a dough.
If using a mixer, add the dough hook attachment, mix the ingredients together on low for 3 minutes until it all comes together. If doing by hand, mix the ingredients together for 15 minutes. Cover the dough with cling film and let sit for 20 minutes.
Grease a worktop with some oil. Place the dough in the middle. Pull one side of the dough and fold it a third of the way across. Turn the dough around and fold the opposite end over top of the folded dough. Turn the dough 90 degrees and begin folding the other sides. Turn the dough over and roll it around to form a ball.
Place the dough on an oiled sheet pan. Cover the pan with cling film and let it sit for 90 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 180 C.
Add the onions and the chicken stock to a saucepan and cook over low heat until soft, 25 minutes. Add boiling water to keep the mixture wet. Add the tomato passata, basil, oregano and marjoram to the onions. Mix together and cook on low for 45 minutes. Add the anchovies to the mixture and cook until they dissolve into the tomato sauce. Puree.
Place the sliced garlic evenly around the top of the dough. Spread the tomato sauce over the top. Evenly spread the olives, capers and marjoram over the top. Drizzle a bit of olive oil over the top. Bake for 20 minutes.