Hello and welcome to a beautiful Friday that the Lord has created. Not to get too religious on you, I just feel such joy within me when I think of our Creator. I wish I could somehow bottle it up and hand it out to those in need of a little joy in their lives.
Typical of Fridays in our house, it’s a meatless day. Are Catholics still giving up meat on Fridays? Ask a Catholic in America, and the answer is a resounding no. Vatican II did away with Friday Penance. Uh, wrong. The observation of Friday Penance still exists. However; it’s more a matter of personal choice rather than a universal practice. In our house, meatless Fridays just work. To make the effort of forgoing meat means we think about the day, and the reason. Every Friday is a mini Good Friday. No fast, just abstinence.
And having meatless meals gives me the chance to learn new recipes, explore new choices and embrace new things. It’s not just Fish Sticks or Egg Salad Sandwiches. Tuna Salad Pan Bagnat is so Nice – as in Nice, France. I will confess, my rendition does take certain “American” liberties. There’s lettuce, which may or may not be an acceptable “green” depending upon who you talk with. And then there is mayonnaise – an absolute no-no. Perhaps I’ll be forgiven since the mayonnaise is only used in the tuna mixture and not on the bread itself. One lesson I learned is that you really need to let the oil soak into the bread. There’s a reason this sandwich is called Pan Bagnat – bathed bread. Think ahead – make in the morning or better still, the day before. Let everything come together. Most of all, enjoy!
Tuna Salad Pan Bagnat
4 (6 oz) Albacore Tuna in Water
1/2 Red Onion
2 Celery Ribs
2 tablespoons Capers, rinsed
3 tablespoons Mayonnaise or more
2 firm Roma Tomatoes or as needed
Green Leaf Lettuce as needed
1 large Sourdough Round
2 tablespoons Lemon Juice
2 tablespoon Olive Oil
Salt to taste
Black Pepper to taste
Place eggs in a saucepan. Cover with cold water. Bring eggs to a full boil. Remove from heat, cover and let steep for 15 minutes. While eggs steep, create an ice-water bath. Remove eggs from hot water with a slotted spoon. Tap shells on the counter to crack, then plunge into the ice-water bath. Let cool completely. Peel and refrigerate until ready to use.
Drain tuna, flake meat and place in a mixing bowl. Set aside.
Cut onion in half from root to tip. Reserve half the onion for another purpose. Peel and finely dice remaining half, place in the bowl with the tuna. Clean and trim ends of the celery ribs. Dice celery, add to the tuna mixture. Rinse capers, add to the tuna. Mix in mayonnaise. If not “creamy” enough, add more to taste. Set tuna salad mixture aside.
Slice tomatoes into rounds, set aside. Break apart lettuce leaves, rinse and spin or pat dry, set aside. Remove eggs from refrigerator, slice into rounds and set aside.
Cut top from bread round, set top aside. Hollow out the bread round to make a shell of the bottom bread about 1/2-inch thick. Save the torn bread for another use. Place the hollowed out bread on a baking sheet, cut sides up. Place under the broiler for just a few minutes to lightly toast.
In a small bowl, mix lemon juice with olive oil. Brush the inside of the hollowed bread with the lemon mixture. Brush the top as well, set aside.
Spoon tuna salad mixture into the bread bowl, pressing down lightly to fill completely. Layer lettuce, tomato slices and sliced egg on top of the tuna mixture. Season with salt and pepper between each layer.
Set the top of the bread back into place Press down to help flatten slightly. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap refrigerate for several hours or overnight for best flavor. When ready to serve, unwrap the Pan Bagnat, slice round into quartered serving sizes.
There is no way you can put the sandwich in your mouth. So eat the top of the bread like a slice of sourdough. Use a fork to eat the salad from the hollowed out portion. It’s just fun.