Désolé, Charlie

When I was a youngster, I always felt sorry for poor Charlie:

(C’mon. Watch it. It’s only 61 seconds of your life!)

He was being excluded. His feelings were being hurt. This made me feel badly for him.

Then, somewhere along the line, I realized that by being turned down, it meant he was NOT being turned into a tin of tuna. Although I loved tuna then — as I do now — I had trouble wrapping my pre-adolescent mind around why in the world Charlie would WANT to be turned into a can of tuna.

Years of intensive psychotherapy followed. 😉 (Just teasing.)

This past Monday was Bastille Day. Hubby and I kept our celebrations more as a kind of homage or nod to French food this year as opposed to being more authentically French, but for our lunch today, I made us my take on a Pan Bagnat — a French tuna salad sandwich. As Wikipedia tells us:

The Pan-bagnat (Occitanpan banhat for bathed/wet bread) is a sandwich that is a specialty of the region of Nice,France. The sandwich is composed of pain de campagne, whole wheat bread formed in a circle, although white breadis also sometimes used, around the classic Salade Niçoise, a salad composed mainly of raw vegetableshard boiled eggsanchovies and/or tuna, and olive oil (never mayonnaise). Sometimes balsamic vinegar, ground pepper, and salt will also be added.

The name of the sandwich comes from the local Provençal languageNiçard, in which pan-banhat and the alternative spelling pan-bagnat mean “bathed/wet bread”. It is often misspelled “pain bagnat”, with the French pain rather that genuine local pan.

The pan-bagnat is a popular lunchtime dish in the region around Nice where it is sold in most bakeries and markets. Pan-bagnat and the salade niçoise (salade nissardo), along with ratatouille (La Ratatouia Nissardo in Provençal),socca and pissaladière are strongly linked to the city of Nice, where they have been developed over time out of local ingredients.

Inspired by the following recipe at About.Com French Food —


I make mine with quite a bit less oil, and toward that end, I use water-packed albacore tuna instead of tuna packed in olive oil.

This makes for a light, tasty, rather sophisticated tuna salad sandwich. Although you can make it and eat it fresh — that’s what we did today — it’s also perfect to pack for a lunch or picnic, as well. A baguette will hold up better for packing it to eat later; a steak or sub roll or French bread, lightly toasted, works best if you want to make and eat it fresh.

So the next time you want a lighter, fresher twist on the staple tuna salad, make a Pan Bagnat, pour yourself a glass of wine or sparkling water, and pretend you’re in Nice, Franc. 🙂

Bon Appétit!

Pan Bagnat (Number of servings depend upon amount of tuna)

  • Albacore tuna packed in water, drained (a 10 ounce can will make about 3 to 4 sandwiches)
  • Capers to taste (a couple of tablespoons for a 10 or so ounce can)
  • Red onion, sliced thinly and then chopped, to taste
  • Red wine vinegar to taste (I’m generous with mine)
  • Coarse ground black pepper to taste
  • Olive oil to taste
  • Minced garlic to taste
  • Thinly sliced tomato
  • Baguette or other desired bread (a baguette will hold up better for packing it to eat later; a steak or sub roll or French bread, lightly toasted, works best if you want to make and eat it fresh)
  1. In a small bowl, mix a tablespoon or two (eyeball it) of olive oil with minced garlic. If using a baguette, split and spread the garlic-seasoned oil lightly on the inside halves of the bread. If using a steak roll, submarine roll, or French bread, split bread and lightly toast it before spreading the inside halves of the bread lightly with the garlic-seasoned oil.
  2. In another bowl, toss  together drained and flaked albacore tuna, capers, minced red onion, and coarse ground black pepper. Add in remaining garlic-flavored olive oil and season with red wine vinegar. Toss together, taste, and add additional olive oil and/or red wine vinegar until desired flavor and consistency is achieved. Remember, easy does it! You can always add in a bit more oil or vinegar, but you can’t take it out once it’s in there!
  3. Place sliced tomato on one halve of bread. Top with desired amount of tuna mixture. Top with other half of bread. TO ENJOY LATER: Wrap sandwich tightly in cling wrap and keep chilled until you’re ready to eat.
  4. Refrigerate leftovers.

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About MissieLee

I love tasty food prepared in a healthy way with a budget in mind.
This entry was posted in Fish/Seafood, Salad, Salad Filling, Sandwich and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Désolé, Charlie

  1. Susan says:

    That does sound good. The perfect sandwich for a picnic! My husband used to make a fresh salad every morning for his lunch that day and put a whole can of tuna in it. He did this for YEARS. Then he switched to chicken. I’m kind of glad after I heard about Mercury. I’m not scared to eat Tuna, but eating anything every single day could cause problems later if it has something in it that can add up in your body. Thanks for posting. I’m gonna try to remember to get some capers and try this one out.

    • MissieLee says:

      Thank you! It makes for a nice, elegant, lighter twist on the more traditional American version made with mayo or salad dressing.

      It is key to vary the diet as much as possible, because even too much of a good thing is too much!

  2. Pingback: Looking for a Holiday? | That Smells Yummy!

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