Marseille-Style Open-Faced BLT Sandwich
By Heidi Allison
This French-style BLT sandwich, which first made an appearance in Paris before seducing Marseilles, has a decidedly more rustic approach compared to our classic American icon of crispy bacon, fresh, juicy tomato, crunchy lettuce, dressed with mayo, then book-ended between two slices of toasted, soft white bread with a fine crumb.
The Bacon Laitue Tomate Marseilles sandwich uses no mayo or bacon. It is also served open-faced, and uses a single piece of bread as its foundation—a dense, chewy, rustic, country-style olive bread. Tapenade, a paste of black olives, capers, and anchovies, is crucial to the flavor profile of this sandwich. Invented in 1880 by Charles Meynier, chef de cuisine at the now-shuttered Marseille restaurant, La Maison Doree, the original recipe for “Cavier Marseille” consisted of capers, black olives, tuna, anchovies and mustard, and, was created to accompany a hard-boiled egg dish—Eggs Mimosa. As the recipe evolved to enhance other dishes, the ratio of black olives increased from 30 percent to about 65 percent, while the quantity of capers dropped, and the tuna completely vanished.
The other flavor that grabs your attention in this amazing Mediterranean sandwich comes from the second bread-spread, a French style-pesto, called Pistou. The Provençal counterpart to Genovese pesto, this herb paste differs from its Italian cousin by adding fresh tomato, a headier hit of garlic, and a second cheese to the ingredient list—shredded, slightly sweet, nutty-tasting Gruyere cheese—which makes a lovely counterpoint flavor to the salty, smoked cured pork. A sprinkling of sweet, sun-dried julienne cut tomato, a drizzle of balsamic vinaigrette and a slice of creamy avocado (optional; not traditional) completes this rustic, bold-flavored and hearty sandwich.
Makes: ½ - 1 cup
4 garlic cloves
(use 2 cloves unless you love garlic)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 cups loosely packed basil leaves
½ cup shredded Gruyere cheese
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
¼ cup olive oil
1 large plum tomato, skin and seeds removed, then chopped
Put garlic cloves, salt, pepper, basil leaves, cheeses and olive oil in a blender and lightly pulse till combined. Add chopped tomatoes and pulse 2-3 times. Remove pistou from food processor and place in a glass container and refrigerate.
Makes: 1 cup
1 cup pitted black olives
15 salted anchovy fillets, rinsed and patted dry
3 Tbs. drained capers
2 cloves garlic
½ cup good olive oil
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
Combine the olives, anchovies, capers and garlic in a blender or food processor and mix to a paste. With the machine running, in a slow stream, pour in olive oil and lemon juice, mix still smooth. Transfer to a container and refrigerate. Will keep for about 2 months.
3 Tbs. olive oil
1 Tbs. aged balsamic vinegar
¼ tsp. kosher flake salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Mix all the above ingredients in small bowl and whisk with a fork till combined, then set aside.
serves 4 as a main; 6-8 as an appetizer
4 slices country olive bread, sliced ½ inch thick
½ cup pistou
¼ cup tapenade
1 small head organic romaine lettuce
, rinsed, dried and cut into ¼ inch slices
1 small jar oil-cured, sun-dried tomatoes
, julienne cut style, drained
3 Tbs. balsamic vinaigrette
7 oz. good-quality, handcrafted prosciutto, nitrate-free (can sub with 8 thin slices of warm pancetta or Canadian bacon)
½ Hass avocado
, peeled and ¼ inch sliced (optional)
Toast or grill the bread slices until golden brown on both side. While still hot, rub each slice on one side with garlic and lightly brush with olive oil.
Spread a thin layer of pistou over each slice of bread. Spread one tablespoon of tapenade over ½ of 4 slices of bread. Cover each slice with a handful of thinly-sliced Romaine lettuce, sprinkle of sun-dried tomatoes and finish with a drizzle of balsamic vinaigrette.
Layer prosciutto over 4 slices of bread, then top 2-3 slices of avocado, and serve.