The first weekend of the summer and even though we were entertaining at home, I was thinking picnic food. Our vegetarian friends were coming for dinner and not having a lot of time for preparation, I decided that we’d have a simple supper of sandwiches and salad. I went back and forth on what type of sandwich-should it be a grilled vegetable panini with the ciabiatta rolls from the farmers’ market, or do I use my freshly baked loaf of “no knead” bread for a caprese?
In the end I went with the do-ahead “pan bagnat”, an overstuffed sandwich with flavors from the Mediterranean. This sandwich makes me think of unpacking a picnic basket and eating at the beach. Even thought the calendar says it’s summer, here in coastal southern California our evenings are still cool and cloudy, so we’d be having our picnic in the dining room.
This sandwich needs a good crusty roll or a baguette, which is what I used. It benefits from being assembled ahead of time to allow all the flavors to meld. The name “pan bagnat” is derived form the the French phrase pain baigne which means “bathed bread”. Fresh herbs, good olive oil and vinegar are blended to make a dressing that gets slathered on the baguette and the filling is stuffed inside. Wrapped in plastic wrap and set aside for an hour or so and you are good to go.
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil
4 anchovy fillets, rinsed and patted dry
3-1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 cup olive oil
4-6 crusty rolls or 1 large baguette, cut into 6 pieces
1-7 ounce can oil-packed tuna, drained and flaked
1 cup peeled, seeded and diced ripe tomato
1 cup pitted and chopped Nicoise Italian or Greek olives
4 teaspoons capers, drained
1 teaspoon finely minced garlic
1 cup julienned red or yellow bell pepper
1 cup peeled, seeded and chopped cucumber
1 cup minced red onion
2 large hard cooked eggs, chopped
In a food processor or blender, puree the basil, parsley, anchovies and vinegar. Add the oil in a thin stream until the dressing is thick.
Cut the bread in half and scoop out the insides, leaving 1/2″ thick shell.
Crumble the removed bread in a bow and combine it with the tuna, tomatoes, garlic, peppers, capers, onion, cucumber and eggs. Spoon in 1/4 cup of the dressing and blend all together. Spread the remaining dressing on the rolls and heap the salad on the roll bottoms. Cover with the tops and press firmly. Wrap each sandwich firmly in plastic wrap and let it rest for at least an hour or so. Serves: 6