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French onion tart


Vietnamese Australian chef Luke Nguyen offers this classic French recipe for ‘pissaladiere’, a delicious finger-food dish to serve as an appetiser or take on a picnic.

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Nguyen is the owner of Sydney’s Red Lantern restaurant and a cooking school called Grain in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. He is also a television presenter and the author of five cookbooks.

His most recent television series, Luke Nguyen’s France, saw him travel the length and breadth of the French culinary landscape to learn the secrets of classic French dishes. He has also produced a book from the series with nine chapters each dedicated to a different region of France.

Here, he has shared a recipe from the book for onion tart or pissaladière, a pizza-like dish from Nice in the south of France.

Onion tart (pissaladière)

A great addition to picnic hampers, this French tart is simple to prepare and very tasty. A traditional Provençal recipe, this version features homemade pastry and anchovy paste in place of anchovy fillets.


2 tablespoons anchovy paste*
125ml olive oil
6 large onions, peeled and thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, peeled but kept whole
1 bouquet garni
100g Nicoise olives**

*To make anchovy paste, drain the oil from a can of anchovy fillets and mash. A ready-to-use anchovy paste that is available at most supermarkets is Peck’s ‘Anchovette’, a fish paste made from a mixture of pilchards, mackerel and anchovies.

**Nicoise olives is the name given to the small black fruit of the Cailletier variety that are cured in brine and packed in olive oil. Kalamata olives can be used in place of Nicoise.

For the dough

125ml milk
30g fresh yeast
60ml olive oil
300g plain flour


Preheat the oven to 190C. Brush a 30cm flan tin with olive oil.

To make the dough, combine the milk, yeast and olive oil in a mixing bowl. Lightly stir together. Add the flour, then gently combine using a fork, to form a rough dough. Using your fingers, spread and flatten the dough evenly around the tart tin.

Spread the anchovy paste evenly over the dough. Cover with a tea towel (dish towel) and rest in a warm place for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the olive oil, onion, garlic, bouquet garni and a generous pinch of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cook, stirring every 5 minutes, for 20 minutes, or until the onion is nicely caramelised.

Discard the garlic cloves and bouquet garni, then spoon the onion mixture evenly over the tart base.

Bake for 20–25 minutes, or until the base is golden brown, covering the tart with foil if the onion is browning too much.

Remove the tart from the tin and transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Garnish with the olives and slice into 6–8 pieces to serve.

Serves 6 to 8

Luke Nguyen's France, published by Hardie Grant Books, $59.95.

Luke Nguyen’s France, published by Hardie Grant Books, $59.95

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