My father, David, is an ardent fan of tuna sandwiches, lunching on them nearly every day. That’s why, for the Father’s Day lunch I hosted this past weekend, I chose to prepare his dietary staple — but in a new way. Forget monochromatic and sodden. I was going for colorful, healthful, and uber-flavorful.
My starting point: high-quality, oil-packed tuna from Spain (it comes in small glass jars or tin containers and costs a bit more, but is well worth it) and the 12 Seed and Grain bread from Whole Foods (ask for it unsliced, so it remains fresher longer, and buy it the day you’re planning on using it).
To begin on a strong flavor note, I prepared garlic oil, which sounds impressive, but is anything but. Just mince several cloves of garlic, cover with extra virgin olive oil, and let sit for about 30 minutes at room temperature, then strain. I also mixed up some olive mayonnaise by stirring tapenade (olive paste), fresh lemon zest, finely chopped fresh herbs (tarragon, thyme, and basil), salt, and pepper, into store-bought mayonnaise.
To assemble the sandwiches, I brushed garlic oil on several slices of bread, and toasted them in a 350-degree oven for 10 minutes. Then I slathered the slices with olive mayonnaise. On top, I piled up some of the good tuna and sliced hard-boiled eggs. To gild the lily, I added strips of roasted red pepper, fresh basil leaves, and a bit more salt and pepper, offering balsamic vinegar on the side for drizzling on top. Inspired by the tartines (open-faced sandwiches) at the chain, Le Pain Quotidien, I dispensed with top slices of bread. The effect was a riot of color and aroma.
On the side, I served a platter of roasted vegetables: Brussels sprouts, asparagus, and beets.
For dessert, I topped mounds of fresh sheep’s milk ricotta with mixed berries and orange-honey syrup with cinnamon.
My father didn’t miss his standard tuna-and-mayo-on-wheat for a second.