A special tuna fish sandwich recipe? I imagine you're not too surprised to find out that the French have their very own version of a tuna salad sandwich. It's called a pan bagnat, and it is a specialty of Nice. Yes, that's the same Nice that brought us salad Niçoise.
Have you ever had a salad Niçoise? Are you sure? For what goes into a salad Niçoise is subject of great debate amongst people who care about such things (basically people from Nice). In France, every home chef seems to have their version, the one true version, of this salad. If you go into a bistro in Paris, you just might find a salad Niçoise on the menu, but is it the the real one? Most people from the south of France would probably argue otherwise.
The same thing goes on, but to a lesser degree for the pan bagnat, which some people say is just a salad Niçoise in a sandwich. Although I'm sure a few French people will agree with my ingredient list on this one, I'm probably already in trouble for writing down this recipe and calling it a pan bagnat. I may receive a nasty letter from the Pan Bagnat association (which actually exists). There are even some who will claim that a true pan bagnat doesn't even contain tuna.
I'm certainly not going to argue with them. I can only say in my defense that this is the tuna fish sandwich recipe that I've been served in sandwich shops when I ordered a pan bagnat, and it is delicious. What makes it different from other tuna fish sandwiches? Lots of olive oil and fresh vegetables.
You can make this tuna fish sandwich recipe with any sort of crusty French bread you'd like - a baguette would be just fine. However, it is more typically served using a large round loaf or possibly smaller individual rounds.
If you're using a large round of bread, cut the top third or so off of the bread and scoop out some of the crumb, leaving about an inch of crust all around, before filling it with the ingredients and returning the top to it's place. After that you can slice it into servings.
This would make a good picnic lunch or sliced in small enough servings you could serve it as an appetizer, although it might get a bit messy.
1 round (or whatever shape you wish) loaf of French bread
1 clove garlic, peeled and halved
1/4 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons vinegar
salt and pepper
1 cup chopped lettuce
2 tomatoes, chopped
2 hard boiled eggs, chopped
2 6 ounce cans tuna, drained and flaked
4 anchovy filets, chopped
1 cucumber, chopped
1 red or green pepper, chopped
1/2 red onion, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
12 pitted black olives
Cut the top third off of the bread and remove some of the crumb to make room for the filling. If you are using a baguette, you may not need to remove any crumb as there is not that much to start with.
Rub the inside of both halves of the bread with the garlic to flavor it. Using a pastry brush, thoroughly imbibe the inside of the bread with the olive oil. Sprinkle lightly with vinegar, salt and pepper.
Mix together all of the other ingredients: lettuce, tomatoes, eggs, tuna, anchovies, cucumbers, bell pepper, red onion, basil and olives. Place the mixture inside the bread and replace the top on the bread. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour before slicing and serving. You might like to place a weight on top of the sandwich while it is "marinating" to help solidify the ingredients.
You could also add chopped radishes and artichoke hearts, which I'm sure some people consider essential ingredients to this tuna fish sandwich recipe. But most importantly, you should add what pleases you.