The recipe was adapted from one that appeared in The New York Times many moons ago, which itself was adapted from Entertaining in the French Style by Roger Verge (Stewart Tabori & Chang, 1986).
Summer 2021 update: Having made this many times over the years, I have recently fine-tuned the recipe slightly. Bon appetit!
Crust – Requires 2 hours resting time
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup olive oil (previously 3/4 cup)
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, minced (approx. 1.5 cups)
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 pound fresh spinach, stemmed and chopped
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup Nicoise or Greek black olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
8 springs fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 large red bell pepper, cut into strips
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. I usually use a 12″ x 17″ pan, but you can use two smaller baking sheets instead.
About a half hour before you are ready to assemble the pissaladière, heat the oven to 375 degrees.
Make the Crust
Combine the flour and 3/4 teaspoon salt in a large bowl.
In a separate bowl, combine the 1/2 cup of water and olive oil. Beat with a fork or whisk until well combined and frothy.
Pour the oil mixture into the flour mixture and blend using your hands or a spoon, just until combined. Do not over-work the dough.
Gather the dough into a soft ball, wrap it in plastic and refrigerate for at least two hours.
Prepare the Topping
Trim the spinach leaves from the stems, rinse well, dry, coarsely chop, and set aside.
Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan over medium heat and add the onion. Saute until lightly browned, about 10-15 minutes.
Add the garlic and continue cooking another two minutes until fragrant.
Add the spinach, salt, and cayenne pepper and cook for about 8 minutes, stirring frequently so that most of the moisture evaporates.
Scrape the spinach mixture into a medium small bowl and set aside to cool.
In the same frying pan, without adding additional oil, add the red pepper strips, saute until softened and set aside.
Assemble the Pissaladière
Line one large baking sheet or two smaller baking sheets with parchment paper.
Roll out the dough into a rectangle or oval, roughly 1/4 inch thick and transfer to the parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Use your fingers to press and stretch the dough, as needed, so it has a nice shape and fits evenly onto the baking sheet. Roll the edges of the dough forward to form a low border.
The spinach mixture may have released additional liquid as it cooled. If so, carefully tilt the bowl and use a spoon to drain any excess. Too much liquid may result in a soggy crust.
Stir the olives into the spinach mixture. Then spread the spinach mixture evenly over the dough, leaving about a 1/2 inch border.
Sprinkle with thyme.
Arrange the red pepper strips in a decorative pattern over the spinach.
Bake on the center rack of a preheated 375 degree oven for 30 minutes.
Check at 20 and 25 minutes to make sure the top has not overly browned.
Reduce the temperature to 350 degrees, and bake until the crust is and well browned, another 5 to 10 minutes.
Cool slightly, cut into 2 inch wedges, and serve as an hors d’oeuvre.