For my first year of library school, I scored a coveted job at the reference desk of Pratt Library, under the direction of two elderly librarians, one of whom was named Josephine McSweeney. She fit the stereotype of everything you might think of when you picture an elderly librarian, except that she was kind of a yeller, chain-smoked Pall Malls, and ate a tuna sandwich at her desk for lunch every single day. Before long, I couldn’t stand tuna and it took me a long time to get over it.
Now, I am a librarian and sometimes I also eat tuna sandwiches. But never at my desk. I find a good tuna salad makes for the perfect picnic, as long as you skip the mayo, which is why this Pan Bagnat recipe is in constant rotation in our house. It take just a few minutes to put together and paired with some lettuce, sliced radishes, and hardboiled eggs on a roll, you almost don’t need anything else. Except maybe some potato chips and a dry rosé.
Pan Bagnat (Niçoise Tuna Sandwich)
- 1/4 cup shallot thinly sliced crossways
- 6 tablespoons olive oil plus additional for drizzling
- 3 tablespoon red wine vinegar plus additional to taste
- 1/4-1/2 cup Italian parsley minced
- 1/3-1/2 cup Niçoise olives pitted
- 1 tablespoon capers drained
- 1 teaspoon salt plus additional to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper to taste
- 3 cans tuna packed in olive oil
- lemon juice to taste
- 4 rolls soft, not overly crusty (Ciabatta, Kaiser, Portuguese)
- 4 leaves lettuce butter, green leaf, or red leaf
- 2-4 hard-boiled eggs sliced
- 8-12 anchovy fillets drained
- 2-3 radishes thinly sliced
- Combine the shallots with olive oil, red wine vinegar, parsley, olives, capers, salt, and several grinds of black pepper in a medium to large bowl.
- Using a fork, potato masher, or your hands, press/squeeze everything together for a few minutes.
- Add the cans of tuna with the oil. Season to taste with fresh lemon juice, more olive oil and red wine vinegar, salt, and pepper.
- Cut rolls in half crosswise, drizzle olive oil on each of the halves, add lettuce, tuna, egg, anchovies, and radish to the bottom halves, and cap off with the top halves.