Thursday, August 9, 2007

Pan Bagnat: Tuna sandwich with style

It's too hot to cook. It's almost too hot to eat....ok well maybe not. My cupboard was bare after my trip to Mexico so I had to go to the supermarket tonight in 103 degree weather. I could not countenance the idea of HOT FOOD, so I looked around for recipes that do not require cooking.

The recipe for pan bagnat (bathed bread) from this week's NYT fit the bill. The article accompanying the recipe is delightful, but it will be archived along with the recipe after a week.

Most of the ingredients for this delicious tuna sandwich I usually keep in my house so if my cupboards weren't bare it would be easy to make any time. It is basically a salade nicoise minus the lettuce on a loaf of bread. The only cooking required is to boil and egg. I'd even say the egg is optional if you cannot be bothered to boil some water on these hot summer days.

Et voila la piece de resistance of tuna sandwiches.

Pan Bagnat from Melissa Clark of the New York Time, 8/8/07

2 anchovy fillets, minced (optional)
1 very small garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 8-inch round crusty country loaf or small ciabatta, halved
1/2 regular cucumber
1 medium-size, ripe tomato, sliced
1/2 small red onion, sliced
1 can(5 to 6 ounces) tuna packed in olive oil, drained
8 large basil leaves
2 tablespoons sliced pitted olives, preferably a mix of black and green
1 hard-cooked egg, peeled and thinly sliced.

1. In a small bowl, whisk together the optional anchovies, the garlic, vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper. Slowly drizzle in oil, whisking constantly.

2. If using a country loaf, pull out some soft interior crumb to form a cavity. If using a ciabatta, you won’t need to eliminate anything.

3. If using a Kirby cucumber, slice thinly. If using a regular cucumber, peel, halve lengthwise, and scoop out seeds from one half. Thinly slice seedless half. Add sliced cucumber to vinaigrette and toss well.

4. Spread half the cucumbers on bottom of bread. Top with tomato and onion slices, then with tuna, basil, olives and egg slices. Top egg with remaining cucumbers and vinaigrette. Cover with second bread half and firmly press sandwich together.

5. Wrap sandwich tightly in foil, waxed paper or plastic wrap, then place in a plastic bag. Put sandwich under a weight such as a cast-iron frying pan topped with a filled kettle, or have a child about 7 years old sit on it. Weight sandwich for 7 to 10 minutes, then flip and weight it for another 7 to 10 minutes (or as long as you can get the child to sit still). Unwrap, slice and serve immediately, or keep it wrapped for up to 8 hours before serving.

Yield: 2 to 3 servings.

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