Author Notes: A few weeks ago, I was flipping through a food magazine and came across a recipe for a traditional pissaladière. The dish is traditionally a Provençal pizza-like tart, a yeast-based dough typically topped with onions, anchovies and French oil-cured olives. No cheese, but for a pizza addict like myself (once a week!), this dish completely hits the spot.
I decided, of course, that a blank canvas like this needs - is basically crying for - an exotic twist. Wild mushrooms are in season, and I picked up beautiful, feathery oyster mushrooms from the farmers’ market. Ajwain seeds pair gorgeously with mushrooms. Therein, lies the inspiration for this pissaladière.
Instead of making pizza dough from scratch, I like to use puff pastry because I’m a bit obsessed with it, but also because it saves time and forms the most perfectly thin, buttery, crunchy layer. And not to stray too far from the original, caramelized onions still form the base layer and work incredibly well with the spices and the sautéed mushrooms. The ajwain and cumin give a smoky, thyme-like kick, and the dish just pops with flavor. Enjoy!
Serves 6 to 8 (app vs. hors d'oeuvres)
- 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed according to package directions
- olive or canola oil
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 ½ cups sliced mixed mushrooms (I used a mixture of cremini, shiitake and oysters)
- ¼ teaspoons ajwain seeds
- ¼ teaspoons cumin seeds
- 2 medium-sized Spanish onions, thinly sliced
- ¼ teaspoons crushed red pepper
- scant ½ teaspoons black pepper
- scant ½ teaspoons chili powder
- scant ½ teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon water
- fresh thyme leaves
- Preheat oven to 400˚ F. I used a 15”x 10” baking sheet, but this dish could be stretched a little farther if your baking sheet is slightly larger.
- On a floured surface, roll out puff pastry into an appropriately sized rectangle and place on a baking sheet. Prick all over with a fork, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to bake.
- Heat a medium-sized skillet over medium-high heat. Cover bottom of pan with oil and add 1 tablespoon of butter. Once foam has subsided, add mushrooms and toss to coat. Cook for about 2 to 3 minutes until well-browned, season lightly with salt and place in a colander over a bowl to drain excess liquid and oil.
- Wipe off skillet and set back over medium heat. Add oil again to coat the bottom of the pan and, when oil begins to shimmer, add ajwain and cumin seeds. Fry spices for about a minute being careful not to burn. Turn heat down to low, add 2 tablespoons butter, onions, crushed red pepper, black pepper, chili powder, and a pinch of salt. Cook on low for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring frequently until onions caramelize. Add mushrooms and mix thoroughly. Taste and adjust seasoning. Set aside to cool for about 10 minutes.
- In a bowl, beat together egg and water. Remove puff pastry from refrigerator and brush with egg wash. Spread mushroom and onion mixture onto pastry being sure to leave an uncovered edge around the outside. Sprinkle with thyme leaves and bake for 15 minutes.
- Let cool slightly before cutting and serving. I like to sprinkle a little fresh fleur de sel on top before serving.