Here, earthy caramelized vegetables, chunks of oil-packed tuna, tiny cubes of Gruyère-type cheese, and pitted chopped olives are mixed and piled on a small baguette slice. It’s the treatment of the bread slice that makes this dish so special. First it’s dipped on one side only in a spicy liquid; only then is the well-blended topping added.
The best rendition of this Tunisian dish occurs when the cook allows all the roasted chopped vegetables to drain overnight. This slow draining creates intense flavor. The preserved oily vegetable drippings are blended with a dose of fiery hot sauce, to be used as the dipping medium for the bread.
Tunisian cooks make a version of the Greek riganatha or the Italian panzanella with stale bread and the same topping as above. It’s called bahriya, and it is delicious. Dice the bread, toss with the prepared harissa dressing, place on a serving dish, top with the roasted vegetables, cheese, tuna, and olives and toss again; garnish with eggs and capers and serve.
The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen by Paula Wolfert. Copyright © 2003 by Paula Wolfert. Photographs copyright © by Christopher Hirsheimer. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.