Winter weather got you down? Since the rest of the country is snowbound by blizzards this week, I thought I might
gloat over our 60 degree temps in Northern California share a classic recipe that’s both quick (all that shoveling to do!) and pantry-friendly, in the event your storm supplies have run low. Nudge the heat up a bit, close your eyes and pretend you’re strolling the Côte d’Azur, barefoot on the beach, Rivieria sunshine on your shoulders and warm breezes in your hair. Isn’t that better?
A specialty of Nice, pan bagnat (French dialect for “bathed bread”) is a decidedly Mediterranean take on the beloved tuna sandwich, and a preferred lunch for Provençal picnics and beach-combing. It’s essentially a Salade Niçoise on a roll, topped with hard-boiled egg and crisp veggies, bright with vinaigrette and lemon and herbs. The dressing will soak into the bread (hence the “bathed” part), so to avoid sogginess, start with a sturdy foundation of crusty round rolls or a good baguette. (You may have to brave the elements to find a decent roll and pick up a bottle of wine, but it’ll be worth your while. Pick up some extra napkins, too.) When summer rolls around again (and it will, darlings, it will) add slices of tomato and fresh basil, leaves left whole.
So have at it, Jack Frost. Wreak all the havoc you can muster, because summer in the South of France is merely a state of mind. And a sandwich. Bon Appétit!
adapted from The Gourmet Cookbook; serves two, generously
- 2 (5.8) oz cans of tuna, packed in olive oil (undrained)
- 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 1/2 tsp lemon juice, or more to taste
- 1/2 C shallots, thinly sliced
- 3 Tbsp scallion greens, thinly sliced
- 2 Tbsp fresh parsley, minced (or 1 tsp dried)
- 1 tsp capers, drained and roughly chopped
- 1 tsp dried tarragon
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
- 1/3 C radishes, thinly sliced
- 2 rolls or 2/3 of a baguette (about 8 oz bread in total)
- 2 eggs, hard-boiled
- black olive tapenade or handful of Niçoise olives, pitted
- Boston lettuce
- anchovy fillets (to taste)
Place the eggs in a small saucepan with enough water to cover. Bring to a boil. Once boiling, set a timer for ten minutes. When done, run the hard-cooked eggs under cool water and set aside.
In a medium bowl, add the shallots, capers, vinegar and lemon juice. Squeeze the shallots to release their juices. Add the tuna, olive oil, salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Fold in the parsley, scallion greens, and tarragon.
Slice the bread or rolls and tear out a bit of their stuffing. Spread with olive tapenade, if using. Layer each half with lettuce. Spread half the tuna salad on one half. Peel and slice the eggs; layer the slices on top of the tuna. Crisscross anchovy fillets on top. Add a layer of sliced radishes. Top with Niçoise olives, if using. Replace the top half of the sandwich. Let rest or press (sandwich between two cutting boards or plates and place several cans or a heavy pot on top), or serve immediately.
Note: if you’re serving this to the anchovy-averse, mince up the fillets and scatter on top of the salad. They’ll enjoy all the wonderful savory-salty flavor without any ick factor.