If you are familiar with classic french food, chances are you have stumbled across a Tuna Nicoise salad or two. It almost always involves fresh tuna, hard-cooked egg, a mustardy vinaigrette and some briny flavors like black olives and capers. This week I decided to dress up your typical tuna sandwich with some fancy French flair, swapping in ubiquitous canned tuna in place of the expensive fresh tuna you would see at a gourmet fish counter.
These sandwiches can be put together in advance, wrapped tightly and weighted down for a little bit in the fridge. This gives all the flavors time to incorporate with each other. From here they can be eaten as is ( great for taking on the go to the beach or a picnic, or quickly pressed in a buttered grill pan or panini press to add additional layers of flavor and texture.
The bread I chose to use is the Thick Sliced Pane from Jessica's Brick Oven. It has a subtle tang, developed by the all natural 15 year old starter that each batch begins with. The crumb is not too airy, insuring all the delicious French flavors stay inside the bread, and not leaking through.
As previously mentioned, I decided to butter each side of the bread and quickly press in a hot grill pan on top of the stove. I feel this really lets the nicoise flavors open up. As always, customize this recipe to fit your liking. Additions and omissions are part of your very own cooking style.
3 TBL extra-virgin olive oil
2 TBL white-wine vinegar
1 TBL Dijon mustard
1 TBL Fresh squeezed lemon juice
Coarse salt and ground pepper to taste
2 cans albacore tuna, drained
1/2 cucumber, sliced thin
1/2 small red onion or shallot, sliced thin
1 loaf Jessica's Brick Oven Tuscan Pane Thick Slice
3 TBL jarred olive tapenade
2 large eggs, hard-cooked and slice
12-15 fresh basil leaves, torn
In a bowl, wish together the oil, muster, lemon juice and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper. Use half to dress the tuna, the other half to dress the cucumbers and sliced red onions.
Spread a small amount of tapenade on inside of bottom and top pieces of bread. Top the bottom slice with basil leaves, hard-cooked eggs and season with salt and pepper. Top with tuna, then marinated cucumber and onion; close sandwich.
Wrap sandwich tightly in plastic and place between two baking sheets. Weight with a heavy skillet. Let stand 1 hour (or refrigerate, up to overnight). To serve, cut in half or thirds