One thing you should know about me, I LOVE Saturday morning radio. Not just any radio...national public radio. I clean my house and listen to my favorite shows...Car Talk, Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me, This American Life, Radio Lab...and The Splendid Table.
A few months (years?) ago, a guest described a sandwich her mom used to make in Italy. The sandwich was called Pan Bagnat and involved layering nicoise salad type ingredients in a french baguette. The guest remembered she and her sister would take turns sitting on it in the car on the way to the beach.
The story and the way she described this magical meal stuck somewhere in the back of my brain. So when one of my friends called and asked if I could put together a 16th anniversary picnic as a surprise dinner for a romantic beach getaway, it popped back into my head.
Zoey was more than happy to provide some weight to the whole experience and found sitting on a sandwich very amusing.
The basket was complete with crackers, local cheese, truffled marcona almonds, figs dipped in chocolate, homemade blueberry cobbler in a jar, olives and wine. As we were present for the wedding of these special friends, it was an honor to be included in their celebratory day!
1/2 teaspoon anchovy paste (optional)
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon sherry vinegar (or other red vinegar)
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 regular cucumber, seeds removed, sliced thinly
1 medium-size, ripe tomato, sliced thinly
1/2 small red onion, sliced an blanched
1 jar (5 to 6 ounces) tuna packed in olive oil, drained
8 large basil leaves
2 tablespoons sliced pitted olives
1 hard-cooked egg, thinly sliced
Baby lettuce leaves, optional
In a small bowl, whisk together the anchovies, the garlic, vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper. Slowly drizzle in oil, whisking constantly. Add sliced cucumbers to vinaigrette and mix.
1. Cut baguette in half horizontally.
2. 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.
3. 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.
Recipe inspired by A Good Appetite: Lunch Recipe: Take One 7-Year-Old in The New York Times by Melissa Clark.