I noticed recently that when I make a bento, most of the time I only put Japanese food in it.
Which is silly really, since there’s more to bento than simply packing Japanese food in a Japanese box…
That’s why I’m trying to put more local food and favourite recipes in my bentos right now (I’m from south-est france, and study in central-east france) . Unfortunately, I must say that a lot of my favorites are not that well-suited to bento ; However there is at least one recipe that perfectly fits a bento lunch, probably because it was traditionally meant to be eaten on the go : a pissaladière.
Delicious eaten cold, well-rounded nutritionally, easily made with cheap pantry staples : I should have known they were perfect for bento.
The only drawback is that you’ll need an hour at least to make it, and that I’m not sure that all the ingredients are cheap stapples in some countries…
Anyway I propose two recipes : The one I got from my family and the one I do for myself, especially for bentos. I adapted the original one for several reasons: I only have a tiny toaster oven at hand right now and considerably less time than when I’m at home…
I also included two variations, between brackets : one to speed up the prepping process and another for people who can’t get a hold of bread flour.
For the dough
- 250 g bread flour (or a kind of strong, high-gluten flour, see home version)
- 150 ml lukewarm water
- 1 pack (5 g) dry yeast
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Black pepper to taste (to my taste : quite a lot!)
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar
- (optional) a pinch of thyme, rosemary, sage and oregano leaves / or herbes de provence mix.
For the topping
- 3- 4 big onions (speed tip : you could use some pre-chopped frozen onions)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Pinch of salt and pepper
- ½ teaspoon of herbes de provence
- A little piece of fresh garlic
- A little tin of oil-packed anchovies (you’ll only need 6 or so)
- 5 Black olives (or any kind but not green olives)
Home version : double the quantities, up the onion to 2 kg, omit optional ingredients and possibly replace the bread flour by all-purpose flour (if using all-purpose flour the dough will be more stiff, and you’ll need to allow at least 2 hours for the dough to rise)
Prep time : 40 mn
Baking time : 5 + 15 mn
Pre-heat your oven to about 200-225° celsius (approximately, I don’t have the precise temperature on my toaster oven).
Mix the warm water, sugar and dry yeast and let sit 10 mns to froth.
Meanwhile measure and mix together in a large bowl the flour, salt and pepper and herbs if using. When the water mixture is ready mix it to dry ingredients with a wooden spoon until the dough cleans the sides of the bowl. Add in olive oil, flour the dough and your hands and knead the ball of dough until smooth and yielding. Form into a ball and let sit in the bowl, covered by a cloth in a warm place, to rest and rise for 20 mns.
While the dough is rising chop the onions, heat up a pan or pot in which you fry the crushed garlic piece in olive oil until fragrant, than add the onions over medium heat, along with the salt & pepper and herbs. Cook about 20 minutes, so the onions are very tender but not browned and the juices released have reduced to nothing. Let cool slightly ;
At this point punch down the risen dough and fom into the desired shape, 1 cm thick (a little less than half an inch) a round or oval shape or more conveniently for toaster ovens and bento purposes, a square. Let rest again 10 mn then pop into the oven for 5-10 mn, until the surface is dry and the dough has risen.
Spread thickly the onion mixture onto the bread, place the anchovies and olives (halved and spitted if you prefer) in a wheel pattern over the pissalladière.
Cook 15 mn on the high rack of the oven, serve hot or cold.
Notes: The don’t be impressed by the dough, it’s a very easy one to tackle. Apart from starting with a dead yeast or over-cooking the onions, it’s rather fool-proof recipe.
As you can see it’s related to pizza, but the dough is way more bread-like and easy to make than the crusty-thin pizza dough and it contains no tomato nor cheese. The sweet-salty topping is addictive… at least to those who can try olives and anchovies. I wouldn’t recommend omitting those : not only the fish give its name to the pissaladière but together with the olives it balances the flavours of the sweet onion mixture with a salty, briny kick.