Not My Grandfather’s Sandwich


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It seems like everybody has memories of their grandmother’s cooking. I remember nothing about my grandmother in the kitchen except when I was six years old and she assured me that if I ate whole wheat bread my hair would turn brown. (I was unhappy with my white blond hair.) My grandfather on the other hand made the most delicious sandwiches I’ve ever eaten in my life.  Cream cheese on fresh rye bread with lettuce just picked from his garden.

Here’s another sandwich, a bit fancier, that has a wonderful flavor and happily needs to be made ahead of time which makes it work well for taking on a picnic or preparing hours before serving to friends for lunch. I tweaked it from Melissa Clark’s recipe for Pan Bagnat in the New York Times:



A 14″ long ciabatta loaf (split and ends cut off) or any kind of artisan bread that has some texture to it. (I’m still not a hundred percent happy with ciabatta for this – it’s a lot of bread. If you come up with a perfect bread for it let me know.)

Olive oil (the first time I made this I didn’t use enough. You want the bread really covered with it.)

Lemon juice (or white wine vinegar in original recipe)

2 six oz. cans of white tuna packed in oil

8 anchovies chopped

1 tablespoon capers

1/4 cup of sliced black olives

1/2 small red onion sliced thin

1/2 red bell pepper sliced thin

Tomatoes sliced thin, enough to cover other ingredients

Fresh basil leaves to cover tomatoes (about 7 or 8)


– Drizzle the bread with olive oil and salt and pepper to taste (not too much salt cause you’ve got the anchovies and capers.)

– Break up tuna into chunks and spread over bread

– Scatter olives, anchovies and capers, then onion and bell pepper and tomatoes.

– Sprinkle on more oil and squeeze a lemon over it

– Add basil leaves and cover

Wrap tightly with plastic wrap (I add aluminum foil cause my plastic wrap always gets snarly.) Wrap a dish towel around it (as you can see in the top picture I forgot this step) and weigh down with something heavy – cast iron pots, books, whatever you have – for two to four hours at room temperature and turn half way through.

Slice the loaf lengthwise and then across three or four times to make sandwiches. Serve with potato chips and/or salad. It’s kind of a sloppy sandwich what with the olive oil and the capers etc. popping out, but it’s delicious. Everyone I’ve served it to loves it. (serves 4-6)






  2 comments for “Not My Grandfather’s Sandwich

  1. March 26, 2014 at 11:02 pm

    Wow, this looks phenomenal, Barbara! I can’t wait to give it a shot. Personally, I’m partial to sourdough, so I may give that a go! Yum!

    • Barbara
      March 26, 2014 at 11:18 pm

      I’d love to hear how it works with sour dough –

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