Dish of the Week: Pan Bagnat

Class your picnic up with pan bagnat.
Class your picnic up with pan bagnat. Photo by Gunnar Grimnes

From classic comfort foods to regional standouts and desserts, we'll be sharing a new recipe with you each week. Find other dishes of the week here.

This week we’re sharing a recipe perfect for picnic season: pan bagnat.

A popular street food in the Provençal region of France, pan bagnat — or “bathed bread” — is a sandwich made with the ingredients of a classic salade niçoise, often including hard-boiled eggs, tuna and/or anchovies, tomatoes, niçoise olives and olive oil. When it’s prepared earlier in the day, the ingredients will marry and soak (or bathe) the bread, similar to the preparation of a muffuletta.

Traditionally, the sandwich was made as a way to use day-old bread (usually a round, crusty loaf or roll) and was a popular way to feed fishermen and other workers, thanks to its simple and cheap ingredients. Of course, you can make the sandwich as cheap or as fancy as you like, choosing between tuna steak or canned tuna and incorporating ingredients like quail eggs, fresh herbs, goat cheese or brie, peppers, or marinated eggplant and artichokes.

This recipe, from Saveur, uses oil-packed canned tuna and adds bell pepper, fennel and a bit of Dijon.

Provençal Tuna Sandwich

2 plum tomatoes, cored and thinly sliced crosswise
Kosher salt, to taste
1 (5-oz.) can olive oil-packed tuna, drained
4 scallions, thinly sliced
1?2 small red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and thinly sliced into 2" lengths
1?3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 (7-inch–round) rustic bread loaf, split (about 20 oz.)
1 small bulb fennel, cored and thinly sliced crosswise
1 small cucumber, thinly sliced crosswise
2 hard-boiled eggs, thinly sliced crosswise
8 oil-cured anchovies, drained
10 salt-cured black olives, pitted and halved
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste


Sprinkle tomato slices liberally with salt and transfer to a colander; set aside to drain for 30 minutes. In a small bowl, break up tuna with a fork and stir in scallions and bell pepper; set aside. In another small bowl, whisk together oil and mustard; set dressing aside. Scoop the insides from the bread loaf and discard or reserve for another use. Place tomatoes evenly over bottom of bread and then top with fennel and cucumbers; spread tuna mixture over top, and then top with egg slices, anchovies and olives. Pour dressing evenly over ingredients, and season with salt and pepper; cover with top of bread, pressing lightly to compact.

Wrap sandwich tightly in plastic wrap and place on a baking sheet; top with another baking sheet and weight with a cast-iron skillet. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight. Slice into quarters to serve.
KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Brooke Viggiano is a contributing writer who is always looking to share Houston's coolest and tastiest happenings with the Houston Press readers.
Contact: Brooke Viggiano