Picnic Week: Tuna Nicoise Sandwiches
You know how when you talk about something for too long it starts to take on a life of its own? We live in an open concept condo that was amazing when Ben and I were the only ones in it, was still okay when we had Esme and now that there are four of us, is a dumb joke where the punch line is always me tripping over a wheelie bug. A move is not in our immediate future but it doesn’t stop us from talking about “when we move to a house” quite a bit. We’re going to have a big garden (flowers and vegetables, natch), a playroom, a big kitchen and a pantry, a coach house that doubles as a studio for SPC (or a home office for Ben depending on who is daydreaming), a laundry room and a cat. And full time staff. Why let reality come into it?
Until then, we have the parks. Like many urban families we spend hours at the two near us – the little park and the big park. Yesterday, the kids and I spent the better part of the day at the big park, Trinity Bellwoods. When you want to make sure your kids have enough time to run off their crazies, the last thing you want to do is go home for lunch. I made this enormous tuna nicoise sandwich in the morning to give it enough time in the fridge but I really should have done it the night before. The result was delicious but could have had more time being pressed flat. It’s a Martha Stewart recipe with a few small tweaks to suit my crew. I like that it appeals to kids or adults. I only used the olive tapenade on one side thinking the kids wouldn’t like it. Then I brought that piece to the park. They didn’t even notice, so there you go. They both loved our lunch. Julian had to pull his open and pick out the pieces. Mostly it was great to be picnic-ing. Of course, it takes a long time to eat your lunch when you’re taking hide-and-go-seek breaks, picking clover and stalking your prey (little brother) through the tall grasses.
Tuna Nicoise Salad
1 loaf bread
2 x 7 oz cans of tuna
3 hard boiled eggs
1/4 English cucumber, sliced
handful fresh basil
3 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp white wine vinegar
1 Tbsp dijon mustard
1 or 2 Tbsp black olive tapenade
Not an ingredient, but what’s a picnic without watermelon?
Whisk together oil, vinegar and mustard until you have a smooth dressing. Drain your tuna well – particularly if you’re bad like me and can’t stop buying the Italian, oil packed variety which is the most delicious – and dump it in a bowl. Add 2 Tbsp of the dressing to the tuna and mash it up with a fork and mix well.
Toss the sliced cucumber in the remaining Tbsp of dressing and give it a stir.
Cut the loaf of bread horizontally and use your fingers to pinch out a good bit of the soft bread inside. You’re making a little nest for your sandwich ingredients and allowing the sandwich to flatten out a bit. You want to pinch out about a cup’s worth of bread. Feed the extra bread to the birds or other hungry varmits running around your kitchen.
Spread a thin layer of tapinade on piece of bread. Place a layer of basil leaves, followed by a layer of sliced egg. Now use a spoon to mound the tuna next. Follow with a layer of sliced cucumber. Place the top of the bread and press down gently.
Wrap the whole sandwich in plastic. Put it on a plate and weigh it down with something. I used a cast iron skillet and a can of tomatoes. Put the whole works in the fridge for at least an hour or over night. You want the flavours to blend but also for the sandwich to compact so it’s easier to slice. For adults you could cut it into quarters, for kids I split them in half again.
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