This delish Pan Bagnat recipe makes enough for 4 very hungry people! A speciality of Nice, the term means “bathed/wet bread”. Sometimes you’ll see it wrongly spelled “pain bagnat”, with the French word for bread, pain, rather than the local pan. This is a popular lunchtime dish and you’ll find it sold in boulangeries and at markets in Nice, alongside another local favourite, Socca. Though not a strictly authentic recipe, this is our Queen of French Cuisine’s take on this lovely recipe.
1 large Boule – a round loaf of bread, as seen in photos
3 tablespoons Olive Oil
6 Roasted Red Peppers from a jar
1/2 Red Onion, peeled and sliced thinly
Fresh basil leaves
Green Olives, about 2 dozen
2 x (125g) balls of Mozzarella Cheese, sliced
3 fresh tomatoes, thinly sliced
2 slices of cooked Ham, (I prefer air dried ham, but it makes the loaf difficult to cut)
Salt and pepper
1. Cut the top off the bread, ( about 2″ deep) and scoop out the inside leaving a 1/2″ shell. Crumble the scooped out bread between your fingers or in a food processor and freeze as breadcrumbs for cooking later.
2. Brush the inside of the bread shell and underneath the lid with the olive oil.
3. Then the fun begins! Layer your sandwich – now, this is NOT written in stone, but these are the layers I prefer, for texture and flavour mingling. First, you place three of your roasted red peppers in the bottom of the shell, I had to cut mine into halves to fit them in snugly.
5. Then add the olives – I cut my olives into slices, so they squash down better and don’t fall out when the loaf is cut!
6. Next is the Mozzarella cheese. Push the slices into the corners as far as you can, tearing some if need be, so they all fit snugly into the bread shell. Then add the first layer of fresh sliced tomatoes, season them well with salt and black pepper and scatter a few more basil leaves over then finally add the ham
7. Now we start to duplicate the ingredients again, adding more roasted red peppers, then more mozzarella cheese and then lastly adding some more slices of fresh tomatoes, not forgetting to add seasoning.
8. Finally, wrap the whole picnic loaf in cling film and sit something heavy on top, I used a tin of Confit D’Canard! Leave it like this for at least 2 hours, it is better overnight actually.
9. You can slice the sandwich before you go on your picnic if you wish, it is easier, or just take a wooden board and knife for slicing on location.
Eh voila! A wonderful sumptuous French Picnic Sandwich! It makes a stunning centre piece summer luncheon dish, especially if you wrap it in greaseproof paper and tie it with string for a very culinbary, arty presentation. All you need is sunshine and wine, oh yes -and good company!
See more of Karen’s special occasion recipes in The Good Life France Magazine
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Karen Booth-Burns is a freelance food and travel writer, recipe developer and food stylist with a passion for local, seasonal ingredients. She has an award winning blog and runs a seasonal cookery school in SW France. www.lavenderandlovage.com