Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Vegan Pan-Bagnat

Pan-Bagnat is a wonderfully flavourful, layered, specialty sandwich from Nice, France.  It literally means "bathed bread," a name it gets as the bread bathes in and soaks up the olive oil, vinegar, and/or lemon juice used to season it.  Traditionally, the sandwich would include tuna or eggs, but since tuna can't be eaten responsibly (they're being fished to extinction) and eggs come with so much baggage, I'm opting for a vegan version.  

One of the great things about this sandwich is that it actually gets better with age, making it perfect for picnics, hiking trips, or as a lunch packed for work.  Ideally, it should get to sit for at least an hour before you eat it.  Some people even press it under a heavy weight for a while (see photo below.)  The flavour palette is similar to the one in this Provencal Hummus recipe, which I suspect would make a nice addition.  Use these ingredients and method as a guide, but feel free to add or subtract things to suit your taste.  Just don't skimp on the olive oil, lemon, and basil!

Planner's note:  This sandwich calls for lightly pickled onions.  If possible, start the onions an hour or more before assembling.


 Baguette (A typical baguette is good for 3 sandwiches)
Fresh Green Beans (about 5 - 6 per sandwich)
1 Medium zucchini
Fresh Basil Leaves
Nicoise, kalamata, or other purple olive (pitted and rough chopped)
Roasted Red Peppers
Artichoke Hearts
1 medium white or red onion

Olive Oil
Sherry Wine Vinegar
Fresh Lemon Juice
1 tsp sugar

  • Start by pickling the onions,
    • Slice onion into paper thin ribbons,
    • In a small bowl, whisk together 1/4 cup sherry wine vinegar, a big pinch of salt, and a tsp of sugar.
    • Add onions to vinegar mixture, cover and set aside.
  • Peel the zucchini into thin ribbons with a vegetable peeler.  Toss with a pinch of salt and set aside to soften.
  • Blanch the green beans.
    • If you're new to blanching, it just means boiling briefly (about 30 seconds), then rapidly stopping the cooking.  This can be done by throwing the thing you're blanching into ice water, or draining and running under cold water.  You want to take the raw bite off, but keep the crunch and vibrant green.
  • Slice the baguette in half (lengthwise, but don't cut all the way) and pick out some of the bread in the centre to make space for the things you're about to stuff in there.
  • Brush both sides lightly with olive oil.
  • Layer in all of the ingredients, adding the arugula into the middle last.
  • Sprinkle with salt, add a few cracks of pepper, squeeze half a lemon willy-nilly over the top of all of the sandwiches, add a small drizzle of olive oil, and maybe even some of the juice from the onions if it seems dry in there.  Get crazy, this is your lunch we're talking about!
  • Optional:  Wrap each sandwich and place under a heavy weight for an hour or so before packing it up and taking it to go!

One more thing:  I've seen people do this with one, gigantic boule of peasant bread and it makes for a stunning presentation.  If you want to go that route, keep the loaf in tact, slice off the top, hollow out the middle, layer the ingredients in (you know, like into a soup bowl), then replace the top, wrap, and press with something heavy up to over night.  When you're ready to serve, cut into wedges like a pie.  

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