2000s Recipes + Menus

Pan Bagnat

Niçoise Tuna Sandwich

February 2001
Pan bagnat literally means “bathed bread,” and truer words were never spoken. It takes a lot of olive oil to make this bread soft and moist, so drizzle with reckless abandon.
  • 1/4 of a white onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/8 of a small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus additional for drizzling* (See cooks' note)
  • 1 tablespoon red-wine vinegar, plus additional to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, plus additional to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • black pepper to taste
  • 1 (6-ounce) can tuna packed in olive oil, iincluding olive oil
  • lemon juice to taste
  • 2 kaiser rolls, plain
  • lettuce leaves, combination of Boston, green-leaf, or other green leafy lettuce
  • 8 tomato slices
  • 6-8 hard-boiled eggs slices
  • 4 anchovy fillets, drained
  • Niçoise olives
  • scallions, chopped
  • radishes, sliced
  • Combine the red and white onion with 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil,1 tablespoon red-wine vinegar, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and several grinds of black pepper in a bowl.
  • Using your hands, mix and squeeze everything together for 5 minutes. (Don't rush through this part; the onions need time to release their juices and mellow.)
  • Work in can of tuna in olive oil, including the oil. Season with fresh lemon juice, red-wine vinegar, and salt, then add pepper to taste.
  • Cut kaiser rolls in half crosswise and spread each bottom half with lettuce leaves. Use a couple of varieties—whatever looks good—for the difference in texture.
  • On top of each lettuce layer, arrange 4 tomato slices (skip this step if you don't have good—really good—tomatoes on hand). Then add about half the tuna mixture and 3 to 4 slices of hard-boiled egg.
  • Crisscross each sandwich with 2 drained anchovy fillets and strew with Niçoise olives (pit them if desired), chopped scallion greens, and sliced radishes. Then drizzle generously with more olive oil and top with the remaining kaiser halves, pressing gently but firmly.
Cooks’ note: This tuna sandwich is all about olive oil. Use the French stuff if possible; otherwise, any mild olive oil will do—save that fancy super-Tuscan for something else.
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