Chickpea Flour Pissaladières with Caramelized Fennel & Onions


Pissaladières are simple but stunning little savory pies from Provence in the south of France that are traditionally topped with little more than caramelized onions, anchovies and olives, befitting the bounties of the coastal Mediterranean region. Well, no anchovies for me, thank you, but for the sake of creativity and tastes pissaladières can also be considered a kind of pizza, even if the natives might disagree.


But even omitting anchovies from any conception of a Provençal pizza, I still craved the simple elegance and joyously intense flavors of Mediterranean ingredients, and the inspired pairing of pungent saltiness with sweetness suggested by the placement of anchovies with caramelized onions. So in place of anchovies, this version of a pissaladière has plenty of full-flavored good quality Kalamata olives and some generous rounds of fresh soft unripened goat cheese, while the sweetness comes from caramelized fennel as well as onions, in addition to some colorful roasted grape tomatoes.

Pissaladières are also typically made with a bread dough, but I loved the idea of making little savory pancakes from chickpea flour as a base for these "pizzas", as suggested in Yotam Ottolenghi's beautiful and inventive cookbook "Plenty". Quite honestly, the aroma of these pancakes alone is so inviting you'll be tempted to eat them without any topping at all. You can easily find chickpea (garbanzo bean) flour in Italian, Middle Eastern, Indian or Asian grocers, or at many natural food stores.


Chickpea Flour Pissaladières with Caramelized Fennel & OnionsChickpea Flour Pissaladières with Caramelized Fennel & Onions
Recipe by
Adapted from Plenty: Vibrant Vegetable Recipes From London's Ottolenghi
Cuisine: French (Southern)
Published on December 15, 2011

Savory Mediterranean "pizzas" loaded with pungent olives, salty and creamy goat cheese, and sweet roasted tomatoes and caramelized fennel and onions

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Tomatoes:
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
  • olive oil for drizzling
  • sea salt and fresh ground black pepper
Onions and Fennel:
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 fennel bulb, trimmed, cored and thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme (or 1 tablespoon dried)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon white wine vinegar
  • fresh ground black pepper
Pancakes:
  • 1 3/4 cups chickpea flour
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 egg whites
  • olive oil for frying
Finish:
  • 10 oz (275 g) soft unripened goat cheese, cut into rounds
  • 1 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and halved
Instructions:
  • Preheat an oven to 275°. Arrange the tomatoes cut-side up on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and fresh ground black pepper. Roast for 25 minutes or until cooked and slightly shriveled but not dry. Remove from heat and set aside.

  • Meanwhile, heat 4 tablespoons of olive oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the sliced onions and fennel and thyme. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes, then lower the heat to medium and sprinkle the vegetables with salt. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, for another 20 minutes or until the vegetables are soft and lightly browned. Stir in the vinegar, heat for 30 seconds, and remove from heat. Season with fresh ground black pepper and additional salt if desired, and set aside.

  • When the tomatoes are done, raise the temperature of the oven to 325° and line two baking sheets with parchment paper brushed with a little olive oil. Whisk the chickpea flour, water, olive oil, salt and pepper in a mixing bowl until smooth. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form. Fold the egg whites into the batter.

  • Brush a small non-stick frying pan with a little olive oil and heat over medium-high heat. When hot, pour a quarter of the chickpea flour batter in the pan. Cook for 2 minutes or until air bubbles appear on the surface and the bottom is set. Use a rubber spatula to gently turn the pancake and cook for another minute. Transfer to a lined baking sheet and repeat with the rest of the chickpea flour batter. When all the pancakes have been made, arrange the goat cheese rounds on the pancakes, scatter with fresh ground black pepper, and place the baking sheets in the 325° oven for 5 minutes.

  • Remove the pancakes from the oven and spread the onion and fennel over the pancake surfaces. Arrange the tomatoes and kalamata olives on top, and return to the oven for 4 to 5 minutes. Serve warm.

Makes four 8-inch pissaladières(4 to 8 servings)
Other recipes from my kitchen you may enjoy:
Grape Tomato and Goat Cheese Clafouti
Brown Rice and Blue Cheese Gratin with Cauliflower and Broccoli
Cassoulet with Bread Topping
Farfalle Pasta with Cannellini Beans and Asparagus in a White Mushroom Yogurt Sauce

2 comments:

Priya said...

Looks super delicious..

Rita said...

You make it look svery tempting; I have always wanted to make this.
Rita