Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Pan Bagnat

Salade Nicoise is pretty terrific on its own but let me clue you in right now.  You will want leftovers.  The second recipe is Pan Bagnat, the sandwich version of Salade Nicoise that I first tasted from a food cart near Nice's stony beach.  When I make Pan Bagnat, I am going for that late-summer memory of olive oil and vinegar-soaked bread packed with tuna, egg, anchovy, sweet red onions and the famous olives de Nice. 

Some of you are already thinking you will omit the anchovy.   I beseech you to try it or at least drizzle some of the unctuous oil onto your tuna.  It is a salty match for the other ingredients.  In fact, there is no added salt in this recipe since both the anchovy and olives provide the right amount.

I like to arrange it so that if I am serving Salade Nicoise for dinner then bringing Pan Bagnat on a hike or to the beach I get slightly different flavor profiles.  Both are from the area of Nice along the southern cost of France where the famous olives de Nice abound.  The salad will feature all the basic ingredients while the sandwich gets a little more individual with possible additions of marinated artichoke hearts, sliced red onion, even fava beans if they are in season near you. 

If you can get your hands on olives from Nice and some French olive oil, by all means use them in this recipe.  If you are putting this together from your local supermarket, Kalamata olives and a good extra virgin olive oil will do nicely. The recipe is fine with either canned or grilled tuna but if using canned, get the kind packed in olive oil.  Also, insist on a really good crusty loaf of bread to make the sandwich.  I use a crusty roll I make in my bread machine that we also use for hamburgers.  A baguette or a small boule will suit.  If there is a lot of bread between the crusts, its advisable to tear out a bit so there is room for all the fillings.

Salade Nicoise makes a knock-out grilled dinner salad for a large or small party.  Most of it can be prepared ahead and guests get to create their own salads from the ingredients offered so it’s a great recipe for a crowd with varied tastes.  It is best served at room temperature with the grilled tuna coming right to the table.  Individual plates are nice for a small number.  For a large group set up big platters so that guests can serve themselves the items they enjoy best.

Salade Nicoise
Per person quantities
1 cup torn lettuces (romaine, bibb, spinach leaves, etc.)
2 new potatoes, boiled
1/2 cup haricots verts (or green beans), steamed
1/2 ripe tomato
1 hard boiled egg
1/3 pound tuna steak, about 1 inch thick*
Ground black pepper
6 pitted olives (nicoise, kalamata,etc.)
3-4 anchovies packed in oil
Vinaigrette (recipe below)

*if using canned tuna, plan on 1/2 can per person and skip grilling step.  When ready to serve salad arrange tuna, olives and anchovy alongside vegetables. 

  • Slice vegetables and egg.  Leave beans whole.  
  • Arrange vegetables on plates or platters starting with a layer of lettuce.  Arrange remaining vegetable ingredients and sliced egg (except olives and anchovies) in clusters to create a colorful tableau.  Leave room for the tuna.  This step may be done ahead of time and salads can be covered and refrigerated 1-2 hours.  
  • When ready to serve, heat grill or grill pan over medium-high heat and coat tuna steaks with coarsely ground pepper.  Lightly oil grill and cook tuna about 2-3 minutes per side for medium-rare.  
  • When fish is ready, remove fish to a separate platter and let sit 3-4 minutes.  
  • Slice tuna steaks in thick slabs and place alongside the vegetables. Garnish with olives and anchovies.   Serve with vinaigrette (recipe below).
Pan Bagnat
for 1 sandwich:
baguette or hard roll
1/2 portion of Salade Nicoise
Roasted red pepper
Marinated artichoke hearts
Red onion
Vinaigrette (recipe below)

  1. Split the bread in half and brush an ounce of vinaigrette onto the open halves.  
  2. Next layer the Salade Nicoise leftovers with the remaining ingredients drizzling a bit more vinaigrette in between the layers. 
  3. Tightly wrap sandwich in plastic or wax paper and place in a second protective bag or resealable plastic bag.  Get thee to the beach or park to enjoy.   

La Vinaigrette
4 ounces extra virgin olive oil
1 ounce apple cider or red wine vinegar
Salt & pepper
Additions: Dijon mustard, capers a spoonful of pesto sauce

Vigorously mix all ingredients together. 

A recipe for Pan Bagnat direct from Nice (en francais) that is not too different than mine….