Onion & Olive Tart

Onion & Olive Tart

This wonderful onion and olive tart is based on a recipe from Molly O’Neill.  Think if it as an Americanized version of the classic French Pissaladiere – a Nicoise savory tart made with anchovies, onions, olives and herbs.  The classic Pissalidiere is made with a thin pizza crust (though Julia Child made hers with puff pastry) and derives it name from its use of pisalla – a condiment speciality of the coastal area around Nice made from ground anchovies with olive oil, herbs and spices.

Today, I’ve made my mother-in-law Irene’s variation of the tart without anchovies. I plan to bring it to my brother-in-laws kick-ass Second Saturday Party, where it will accompany his amazing chicken wings and the best roast beef sandwiches in the world. Anchovies just don’t seem right, and I fear not everyone will like them.

But making this tart and learning about its origins has me itching to try my hand at a classic Pisalladiere.

Onion & Olive Tart

The original recipe by Molly O’Neill has instructions for making the crust by hand, if you prefer that over using the food processor.  Molly also hides the anchovies and olives between two layers of onions. Maybe she’s also worried about her audience…. I just made the variation without anchovies. 


  • 2 cups flour
  • ½ lb unsalted butter, sliced
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 3 tbsp ice water


  • 2 tbsps sweet butter
  • 3 lbs yellow onions, thinly sliced
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 12 anchovy fillets
  • 1 cup oil-cured black olives, pitted and halved
  • ¼ tsp each, basil and oregano

Make the crust:  In food processor, pulse flour and salt. Add butter, pulse. Add liquids. Pulse, then shape into ball on floured board. Wrap in plastic. Chill for one hour

Make the filling by melting the butter in a large skillet over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and add the onions. Cook, stirring frequently until the onions are light brown, about 15 minutes. Adjust the flame to avoid burning. Season with salt, pepper, oregano and basil. Set aside to cool to room temp.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Roll the dough out on a lightly floured board and place in a large pie or tart pan. Press the dough into the pan and crimp the edges.

Lay in the onions using a fork. Arrange the anchovies in a starburst pattern from the center of the pie. Arrange the olives between the anchovies.

Bake the tart until the crust is golden and the onions are caramelized and brown, 40 to 50 minutes. YIELD: eight servings.

Pie Variations:

Omit anchovies. Sprinkle ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese on crust before adding the onions. Dot with whole olives before baking.

To make ahead 

Cook up the onions, and refrigerate. Make the pie dough and refrigerate. On the day you are serving, roll out the pie dough, assemble the pie and bake.  Serve at room temperature or warm up before serving.

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