You’ll pardon me while I swoon a little. Oh. I just ate a delicious thing: pan bagnat. It’s a pressed sandwich that originated in Nice, France. If you’ve ever had Salade Nicoise, this is basically that stuffed inside fabulous bread. It seems to be one of those wonderfully flexible dishes that will accept any number of additions and substitutions depending on your preferences or whims, and still be delightful.
The idea is to drench some excellent ingredients–usually anchovies, lettuce, olives, tomatoes, good tuna–in an olive-oil vinaigrette in between good crusty bread. Then, you wrap the thing tightly and set a weight on top of it–a brick is traditional–and refrigerate it for several hours, or better yet, overnight.
In my research, I saw recipes that included tuna, excluded tuna, called for hardboiled eggs, left out the lettuce…as usual I used what I like and what I had on hand, which ended up looking like this.
(literally, “bathed bread”)
1 six-inch loaf good baguette
six large basil leaves
some chopped black olives,sliced cherry tomatoes and artichoke hearts (which I will put in just about anything)
four rolled anchovies w/capers (unrolled here)
shallot vinaigrette and olive oil
Slice the loaf into two halves horizontally. Drizzle a bunch of olive oil over both halves and then line each with three basil leaves. Spread the olives, tomatoes and artichoke hearts onto the bread and then pour some vinaigrette over it. Layer the anchovies and then pour on yet more vinaigrette. This is not supposed to be a dry sandwich, and all that good stuff is going to soak into the bread and make the world a better place. Trust me.
I had planned to use the can of good tuna packed in olive oil I bought just for the occasion, but my beloved tuna-loving husband got to it first. So I skipped it entirely and just relied on anchovies for the salty pungent yum I was looking for. These things are my current favorite:
(They also rendered my most recent batch of puttanesca a true elixir.)
When all your ingredients are snug in their bed of bread, wrap it up, put something on top of it (with no brick on hand I used a gigantic jar of peanut butter!) and stick it into the fridge.
Research is so hard.