Friday, July 13, 2007

When It's Too Hot to Cook: Pan Bagnat

We've had some scorching, for us, temperatures this week here in Seattle. Thank heaven for the Big Ass Grill.

But for me, summer time food isn't always about grilling. I yearn toward simple dishes with bright flavors, crisp textures, things that are cool on the tongue to begin with, sending the message to the rest of your body that there are viable (and delicious) alternatives to sweltering.

I first encountered this dish the summer I decided to grow haricot vert and was looking for recipes to use them up. Now, strictly speaking, haricot vert is simply French for "green bean". But haricot vert are small and thin, something you can eat whole without any trimming of ends or snapping into bits. They are crisp, tender, not stringy and the very essence of a green bean. Plus, they have all that French attitude.

They are also fairly hard to come by unless you grow them yourself, have a good farmer's market or a hipster produce vendor. It is entirely possible to make this with regular string beans but look for ones that are young, thin and tender.

There are lots of different recipes for this Provencal classic. Mine has a few more ingredients than some of the other recipes I've found and I like it that way. You can certainly play with it, using chopped tomatoes instead of cherry toms or leaving out ingredients you don't like or can't find (I couldn't locate any fennel the other day, for example). You'll likely end up with more of the tuna-veggie mix than you need, which is just fine. The longer the ingredients have to sit, the better. In fact, the evening after we had the sammies for dinner, The Spouse and I ate the rest of it, tossed with romaine, as a salad. It was delicious.

Pan Bagnat

¼ pound haricot verts
½ red onion, thinly sliced
½ bulb fennel, thinly sliced
1-pint cherry tomatoes, quartered
½ red pepper, seeded and diced
¼ c. Nicoise olives, pitted and roughly chopped
2 T. capers
2 6.5 oz. cans tuna, drained
4 large crusty rolls
2 hard-boiled eggs, sliced

Make 1 c. vinaigrette dressing (I like a simple balsamic vinegar-olive oil dressing, almost equal parts vinegar and oil, for this but any vinaigrette that you like will work). Toss first nine ingredients with ¾ c. of the dressing.

Slice open rolls and scoop out some of the bread on the top half of each roll. Brush rolls with more vinaigrette. Pile salad mix on bottom half, top with egg slices and cover with top of roll.


TWISI said...

that looks YUMMY! I wish I had seen the recipe before I bought shrimp.

I wanted something cool for tonight's dinner and decided on shrimp salad.

But now I am thinking I could substitute the tuna and shrimp.... hhhmmmmmm.


Lorraine said...

Oh, K, that sounds yummy! If you make it with the shrimp, let me know how it turns out!