Ingredients to serve 6

115g green beans
125ml extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing the sardines and drizzling
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 fennel bulb, washed and cut into thin matchsticks
1 roasted red pepper, cut into matchsticks
1 roasted yellow pepper, cut into matchsticks
225g cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 bunch of fresh basil, chopped
18 fresh sardines, cleaned and filleted
6 slices of hearty country bread
2 to 3 tablespoons Tapenade
1 bunch of rocket
3 hard-boiled eggs
225g Niçoise olives


Presented as an assemblage of cool, crisp vegetables and fresh sardines with excellent bread from our bakery, this is as near to elegant as a sardine sandwich can get. Serve as an appetizer or light lunch.

Fill a large bowl with iced water and bring a medium saucepan of salted water to the boil. Add the green beans and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, until tender. With a slotted spoon or tongs, transfer to the ice bath. Drain and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk the olive oil and balsamic vinegar together. Add the green beans, fennel, roasted peppers and cherry tomatoes. Add half a teaspoon of salt, a quarter teaspoon of freshly ground pepper and the chopped basil. Toss to coat the vegetables in the dressing. Do this in advance (but don't refrigerate), as the vegetables are all the better for it.

Brush the sardines generously with olive oil and season with half a teaspoon of salt and a quarter teaspoon of black pepper. Cook on a grill pan over a medium heat or under an oven grill for 2 to 3 minutes.

Drizzle the slices of bread with olive oil and grill or toast. Spread a bit of Tapenade on each slice. Place the toasts on small plates, layer a few leaves of rocket on each slice and then top with a full assortment of marinated vegetables, 3 grilled sardines, and a couple of slices of hard-boiled egg. Drizzle the pan bagnats with any remaining dressing and garnish with olives.

Taken from 'The Balthazar Cookbook' by Keith McNally, Riad Nasr and Lee Hanson (Absolute Press, £25). Photograph by Christopher Hirsheimer.