Natasha Pickowicz's Winter Pissaladière

Holidays are all about celebrating — and indulging in — sweet, rich, buttery treats. But sometimes your palate needs a break from all the gingerbread, chocolate, and sugar cookies. An elegant fennel tart — inspired by the classic Provencal high-summer dish Pissaladière — is the perfect savory bite to kick-off a holiday party, a long festive dinner, or just to enjoy as a relaxing brunch, supper, or snack. To serve as an appetizer, cut the tart into slim, two-bite fingers, and a tall flute of sparkling wine. To enjoy as the main course, serve it whole, drizzled with olive oil, and a towering chicory salad to complement. It's a welcome reprieve from all the rich holiday eating — and will take you right back to the sunny summer months.



  • 1 large fennel bulb
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 3 oz gruyere (or similar)
  • 1 egg
  • 10 oz puff pastry
  • 4 anchovy fillets
  • 1/4 cup fresh sage leaves
  • 1/4 cup cured black olives
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. First, caramelize the fennel. Slice the bulb into strips and add to a pan with the olive oil. Sauté over medium heat until the fennel is softened and beginning to turn translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the white sugar and vinegar and a big pinch of kosher salt, and stir to coat. Continue to cook, stirring occasionaly, over medium-low heat, until the fennel has reduced by two thirds in volume and is lightly caramelized and golden, another 20 minutes. Continue to stir, letting some of the fennel bits get frizzled and crisp. Transfer to a cutting board and let cool slightly, then chop with a knife until a fine mince.
  2. Slice the gruyere into thin slabs about an eighth of an inch thick.
  3. Whisk one egg with a fork into a runny egg wash and set aside.
  4. Cut the pastry into a 10-inch square, and cut the remaining puff pastry into 4, 1-cm wide 10-inch long strips. Line a Pro Release Baking Sheet with parchment, then transfer the chilled 10-inch puff pastry square to the parchment. Prick the pastry all over with a fork, then brush the edges with the egg wash. Press the 4 puff pastry strips on the edge, creating a wall on each side.
  5. Preheat the oven to 400F while you assemble the tart. Brush the tops of the four strips of the puff pastry with the remaining egg wash, then grind black papper on top. Shingle the sliced cheese on the bottom of the puff pastry square.
  6. Roughly chop the anchovy filets and then scatter on top of the cheese. Spoon the chopped fennel on top of that and smooth down to cover the tart evenly. Arrange the sage leaves and olives on top. Add a squeeze of olive oil all over and then transfer to the oven. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the edges of the tart are deply golden and the filling is sizzling.
  7. Let the tart cool at least 15 minutess before serving. If eating as an appetitizer, cut the tart into 9 squares, then cut those squares in half. If serving as the main course, presesnt whole on a platter and eat with a giant tangle of bitter greens, like chicories or escarole.

Pro Tip

To keep the tart vegetarian, you can omit the anchovy. For added sweetness, try adding a swipe of apple butter or cranberry relish, both of which would complete the anise notes of fennel. Turn this into a rustic galette by layering the filling into flaky pie dough instead.


Chef Natasha Pickowicz

Natasha Pickowicz is a New York City–based chef and writer. She is a three-time James Beard Foundation Award finalist. Much of her pastry work explores the relationship between baking and social justice, including ongoing collaborations with seminal New York City institutions like Lenox Hill Neighborhood House, God’s Love We Deliver, the Brigid Alliance, and Planned Parenthood of Greater New York, for whom she produced a massive city-wide bake sale, raising more than $150,000 between 2017 and 2019. Currently, Pickowicz runs the pastry pop-up called Never Ending Taste, which has been held at NYC’s Superiority Burger, Brooklyn’s the Four Horsemen, the American-Vietnamese bakery Ba. n B., the Taiwanese tearoom T. Company, Los Angeles’s Kismet, and the legendary Chino Farm in Rancho Santa Fe, California. Pickowicz’s recipes and writing have been published in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Bon App.tit, Saveur, Food & Wine, New York magazine, Cherry Bombe, and many other publications. Follow her on Instagram at @natashapickowicz.