This sandwich almost didn’t happen. You see, it almost cost me the tip of my finger. Well, the jury is still out on the last part but at least my doctor said this morning that I wouldn’t need stitches. This is what I get for underestimating a mandoline.
I wanted perfectly thin, uniformly-sliced vegetables for my pan bagnat and all was going well until I got to the cucumbers. The vegetable holder that came with the mandoline wouldn’t hold the cucumber so I decided not to use it.
BIG. MISTAKE. In trying to get one more thin slice out of my cucumber my hand slipped. Then the blood–and tears–started flowing.
“D” is for Dummy. I’m glad you can’t see it emblazoned on my forehead right now. At least this sandwich was worth the pain.
A pan bagnat is a Nicoise salad in sandwich form. Tuna, olives, a hard-boiled egg, onions and other vegetabes are bathed in an anchovy vinaigrette (pan bagnat means “wet bread”). It is a great make-ahead type of sandwich–sealing it in plastic wrap for at least two hours allows the flavors to meld–but it is also wonderful enjoyed immediately. This version from the New York Times has the added distinction of being pressed thin (I used my cast iron meat press) so that the vinaigrette disperses all over the sandwich. The crusty ciabatta (I toasted mine first) was perfect to hold the vinaigrette-drenched tuna, olives and vegetables–making for a flavorful, satisfying sandwich, sliced finger notwithstanding.
Now excuse me while I go out to pick up a mandoline glove.
* From the New York Times (original recipe here, I adjusted the proportions on the vinaigrette)
- 3 anchovy fillets, minced (optional)
- 1 large garlic clove, minced
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- Pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 ciabattas, halved (I toasted mine lightly)
- 1/2 regular cucumber
- 1 medium-size, ripe tomato, sliced
- 1/2 small red onion, sliced
- 1 jar (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. Whisk together the anchovies (if using), the garlic, vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper. Slowly drizzle in oil, whisking constantly.
2. Slice cucumber thinly then add to vinaigrette and toss well.
3. 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.
4. 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. Weight sandwich for 7 to 10 minutes, then flip and weight it for another 7 to 10 minutes. Unwrap and serve immediately, or keep it wrapped for up to 8 hours before serving.