Recipe Difficulty: Easy
What is Pan Bagnat exactly?
I'm glad you asked! Pan Bagnat is a traditional sandwich that originated in the South of France. It is often made with round, rustic day old bread called "pain de campagne," which is split in half and filled with the ingredients found in the classic French "Salade Niçoise". Often times the bread will be rubbed with garlic cloves before adding in the remainder of ingredients.
Typical ingredients seem to vary a bit, and my guess is, as with many dishes around the world, that what goes into it depends on the region, who is cooking, and what ingredients are available. Generally though, Pan Bagnat includes some variation of tuna, hard-boiled eggs, black olives, tomatoes, red onion, and greens such as arugula or watercress.
The sandwich is typically seasoned with a vinaigrette made with olive oil, vinegar, and herbs such as basil and parsley. Then, it is pressed or weighted down for a few hours to allow the flavours to meld together and the bread to become moistened by the dressing. This makes the Pan Bagnat a great make-ahead sandwich that can be prepared in advance, perfect picnic fare.
Pan Bagnat is thought to have originated in the 19th century, as a way for fishermen and others in the working class in Nice to enjoy a portable and filling lunch. It became a popular street food in Nice and the surrounding region, and is now considered a traditional dish of the Provence region.
Pan Bagnat isn't typically vegan, but I am.
As I shared above, traditional Pan Bagnat is not vegan, but, I am. I love to explore foods from all over the world, and I enjoy putting my own spin on things to share with others and of course to suit my own diet and lifestyle. I think it is a myth that veganizing a dish means you are losing something or taking something away from it. It's important to understand the origins, history and culture of a dish, but veganism is an ethical movement that not only won't go away, it is consistently growing, and I think the best way I can show my appreciation and love of globally inspired food, is to make my veganized version of things taste amazing. I wasn't always vegan, and I wasn't vegan when I first started making and eating pan bagnat, but I love this plant based version just as much, if not more. I am certain there are plenty of vegans in France, and I can only hope they would approve of my homage to this classic sandwich.
Pan Bagnat, love at first bite.
This sandwich is close to my heart. I used to make my original version years ago in late summer, when sun ripened tomatoes were bursting with flavour. Along with the tomatoes I added olives, red onion, fresh basil & hard boiled egg. Then, dressed everything with a simple red wine vinaigrette.
I've since replaced the egg with smashed white beans seasoned with kala namak. It's a delicious and convincing alternative. Kala Namak is a sulpheric sea salt which provides an eggy taste to whatever you sprinkle it on. I am certain some would take a bite and would assume they were eating egg.
Pan Bagnat translates to "bathed bread", which describes perfectly the essence of this sandwich. My veganized version of pan bagnat has tomatoes, onion, shaved fennel, olives, white beans & basil. The veg is all dressed with a red wine vinegar and olive oil based vinaigrette. The idea is to drizzle additional olive oil all over both sides of a split baguette that has bread torn from the middle to hollow it out. Then you add the juicy marinated veg (don't avoid the liquid, ADD the liquid) and other ingredients (basil, olives). The bread soaks up all the juices. The result is a gorgeous flavourful marinated sandwich. Baguette is really chewy so allowing the moisture to soak in not only makes for the best flavour, it makes it easier to eat too.
This recipe makes enough to dress 1 standard size baguette that you get at the supermarket. I get 3 sandwiches out of it. You could do 4 if you want them a bit smaller.
Hey! I'm Trisha