Pan Bagnat: Le French Tuna Salad Sandwich

By • September 26, 2010 • 98 Comments



Author Notes: The pan bagnat is the sandwich version of the salad Nicoise. You can find either in various forms all over the Mediterranean coast where it is made with fresh seasonal ingredients. Here, olive oil packed canned tuna is mixed with olives, red onions, fresh herbs, and vinaigrette. The salad fills the center of a crusty French baguette. In this case "crusty" is the operative word. The bread must have a hard crust on the outside otherwise it will fall apart. Pan Bagnat literally translated is "wet bread" - the point is for the vinaigrette to soak into the bread. In my opinion, THAT is what makes this such a great sandwich. - Waverly Waverly

Food52 Review: Pan Bagnat, literally "bathed bread," is a great solution to the brown bag lunch dilemma, and Waverly's version is pitch-perfect. A decidedly Nicoise tuna salad is pressed between two garlic and oil slicked halves of a baguette and left in the fridge overnight, which allows all of the juices to soak into the bread. We chose to include both of the optional ingredients -- crisp green beans, briny artichoke hearts -- and were glad we did. The resulting sandwich was a glorious riot of colors, flavors and textures. - A&MA&M

Serves 2, but multiplies easily

  • 1/2 loaf crusty French baguette
  • 1 clove garlic, cut in half
  • 4-6 basil leaves
  • 1 (6oz) can tuna
  • 3/4 cups Nicoise or Kalamata olives, sliced
  • 1/2 cup red bell pepper, seeded and sliced thin
  • 1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup Italian flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 jar or can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped (optional)
  • 1/4 cup blanched French green beans, sliced into thirds (optional)
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  1. PREP THE BREAD: Slice the loaf of bread in half lengthwise. Remove some of the insides of the bottom half to create a trough into which the filling will go. Brush both halves with a little extra virgin olive oil. Rub each with the garlic. Line the half with the trough with the basil leaves.
  2. MIX THE SALAD: In a mixing bowl, combine the tuna, olives, red bell pepper, onion, parsley, artichoke hearts (if using) and green beans (if using). In a measuring cup or small bowl, whisk the lemon juice into the olive oil until it is emulsified/combined. Pour the vinaigrette into the tuna mixture and stir to combine. Season to taste with sea salt and pepper.
  3. ASSEMBLE: Spoon tuna mixture into the trough of the baguette over the basil leaves. Wrap sandwich well in plastic. Crush it down by placing a brick or heavy cast iron skillet and refrigerate, preferably with the weight, overnight.
  4. SERVE: In the morning, cut sandwich in half. Enjoy for lunch at home or wrap in foil and brown bag it (use a lunch box that will keep the sandwich chilled). Serve with cubes of feta cheese and a tart Granny Smith apple.

Tags: brown bag lunch, Canned tuna, picnic, savory, serves a crowd, tuna salad

Comments (98) Questions (2)

Default-small
Default-small
Default-small

11 days ago GuysEnPlace

Made this last night for lunch today and it was amazingly good, even better than my favourite Cafe! I added a hardboiled egg in the mix because they're a weakness.

Gg_vegan_sample_jar

2 months ago Gaia Goodness Natural Foods

Okay!! I'm totally trying this THIS week. I'll let you know how it turns out

Default-small

3 months ago marymary

YES! This was such a refreshing sandwich. I may never use mayo and mustard on tuna fish salad again. This was my submission today for my favorite weekday go-to lunch... http://food52.com/blog...?

Ecm_profilepic

4 months ago ECMotherwell

This is DELICIOUS! Wonderful when you're impatient and eat it right after preparation; even better the following day.

Stringio

4 months ago kimberly.godwin

I made this last Sunday night for lunch on Monday. I have to say, it was sooooo good. My guy even called me to say that was one of the best lunches I've even given him. I think this is also good without the bread. (I'm not the biggest bread eater.) Next time I might just make the 'filling' as it's own meal. Total keeper recipe!

Default-small

4 months ago Yodamom

I love this sandwich, it's the perfect picnic food. Thank you !

Image

5 months ago Barb

I make an easier variation of this that was inspired by Alton Brown's version, he adds boiled egg which I find really good on this. My variation uses prepared olive tapenade (I like Trader Joes's) and a little extra vinaigrette, and I save some carbs and calories by wrapping it in a thin pita bread lined first with a large leaf of romaine. You lose the dressing sinking into the bread but it's a great everyday lunch. I usually add onions, tomatoes, red peppers, and a bunch of crushed red pepper.

Logo-fb

4 months ago Waverly

That sounds quick and easy, Barb. I will give the olive tapenade and pita bread a try. Thanks!

Image083

5 months ago Cinnamin

Love the tip about scooping out a little from the bottom half! Hadn't thought of it before. NYT's Melissa Clark of A Good Appetite also has a niece tutorial http://www.nytimes.com...

Default-small

5 months ago alin

wow! even my husband loved it...we served it open faced on toast.

Default-small

6 months ago gduncan757

Where's the tuna? When I read the recipe it looked like there was very little tuna in proportion to the other ingredients. I did not have a six ounce can so I used two five ounce cans instead and prepared this according to the recipe. I made it last night and waited until this afternoon before trying it. Overall, I love the recipe but I will do it a little differently the next time. 3/4 cup of kalamata olives is too much and the taste over powers the other flavors. I believe 1/3 or 1/4 cup should be enough. Half of a small onion is vague so I used 1/4 cup. The olive oil/lemon juice dressing (9 tablespoons) makes this very wet and 3 tablespoons of lemon juice is too much, making the tuna a little sour. I think 1 tablespoon of lemon juice with 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil will be plenty. I added the green beans and will do a little more than 1/4 cup the next time. I love garlic so instead of rubbing it on the bread I minced the clove and put it in the tuna. I look forward to making this again.

Open-uri20140312-30713-t81cuu

12 months ago Karen Weintrob

Nicoise Salad on a Baguette....what could be better!

Default-small

about 1 year ago Katie

I rode a bullet train from Provence to Paris one summer, leaving my stage (bakery internship) in the south of France to see the finish of the Tour de France. I was given a pan bagnat for the journey. It's juicy flavors in delicious bread will be in my memory forever!

Dsc_1173

about 1 year ago Sarah Beall

Wow, keeping this recipe. Made this for a summer evening dinner after playing a tennis match. Doubled the recipe and put it together on a ciabatta loaf and it easily fed the four of us. Everyone was licking their plates to get the last bits and pieces that fell out of their sandwich.

Open-uri20140722-9885-1vabeo4

about 1 year ago rapearson

this was delicious! I don't usually like tuna very much but I sure like it in this sandwich! I made a double batch to take camping this weekend and it kept well in the cooler.

Default-small

about 1 year ago walkie74

I made this for a desert camping trip and my friends ate themselves silly. The vegetarians got a non tuna version, while the omnivores got the regular one. Everyone loved it! Thanks for the recipe!

Carriepin

about 1 year ago Carrie Vandelac

What a great way to spice up the classic tuna salad sandwich. I never thought about adding artichoke hearts. Mmm!

Stringio

about 1 year ago Holden Christopher

Oh My Gosh! This was so good! I ran into a time delay and couldn't do the smash/refrigerater part in time for dinner. I took the Granny Smith apple suggestion a step further and sliced them thin lengthwise and added them to the salad.

Logo-fb

about 1 year ago Waverly

I am so glad you enjoyed it. I have not tried it with an apple but that sounds good.

Default-small

over 1 year ago Epiphfoodny

I added preserved lemon and used its pulp in the dressing. Roasted red peppers instead of raw. Skipped the beans. Excellent!

Nlp_8843

over 1 year ago aquarius

Great idea to use preserved lemon. Will try!

Default-small

over 1 year ago Elm

This was so good I didn't want the sandwich to end! Great Job!

Img_7818

over 1 year ago EmilyC

Made this for the DC area potluck...so, so good! I love the fact that the sandwich can be entirely made and wrapped up the night before. And as good as it is in sandwich form, the tuna salad on its own is great too!

Default-small

almost 2 years ago teamom

Hello all,
I've just made this sandwich (yum!), and thought that I'd add my "thoughts and tweeks" -
there are no (real) french baguettes to be had where I live, so I made this sandwich with a "small" sourdough round. This recipe makes enough for two 6" (14 cm) loaves. Sourdough added a chewey nuance, but a nice one, and seemed to keep its crisp well.
I used a 5 oz. can of Genove tuna packed in oil (didn't someone already recommend this? Absolutely worth the extra money), but strained the oil, and used it instead of the olive oil in the vinagrette. As well, instead of a fresh red onion, I used pickled red onion (that I'd put up - very simple), and some of the liquid instead of the lemon juice. Both intensifed the flavours of the ingredients.
A question - the recipe calls for a small jar or can of artichoke hearts. What is that, weight-wise, please? I opened a larger can of artichokes, and only used two hearts, but that was plenty.
One can put a spin on this by substituting coriander for the parsley, and subbing sharper peppers for the red one.
p.s. if one would like to add eggs and/or potatoes, please do. So much the better if they, too were already pickled.....but I think that is of the same school of thought as to whether one puts sausage in the turkey stuffing/dressing or not.

031

almost 2 years ago MaureenOnTheCape

Thank you for this incredible idea Waverly! I was actually looking for something to eat now so I made two; one for tomorrow sitting under the heavy bacon press, and another to grill and eat immediately and it was delicious. I also like the other cook's suggestion to use the leftover mixture for a pasta topping. This is a terrific use of pantry ingredients. You really have a hit on your hands.

Logo-fb

almost 2 years ago Waverly

I am glad you enjoyed the pan bagnat. It is one of my personal favorites and I agree with the other cooks here that you can change things up to your taste. The tuna salad without the bread is awesome too.

Default-small

over 2 years ago Lorenza

I may have missed a detail when I read the posts... Do you drain the tuna or use the oil packed tuna right out of the can? Grazie

Default-small

over 2 years ago rederin

So good and easy! We had them for dinner and the leftovers for lunch. The sandwiches are great, even if you don't let them sit for hours, but were better the next day. I served it with a white bean and zucchini salad.

Default-small

over 2 years ago TulumChica

I have made this several times. My husband and I both adore it. It makes a great beach picnic! Thanks for the recipe.

Default-small

over 2 years ago Jennamerica

I know this is an older post but I found this recipe and made it for a small dinner party.. it served wonderfully for 8! I paired it with minestrone and it was a big hit. I will DEFINITELY make this again for picnics and such..thank you.

Logo-fb

over 2 years ago Waverly

I am so glad that you enjoyed it!!

Default-small

over 2 years ago Dondi Harney

while I'll b substituting a bit, (Im vegan) this is a great recipe and I can't wait to try it. Thank you!

Nlp_8843

over 2 years ago aquarius

Love, love,love this recipe! I always have these ingredients on hand and make just the salad to take to work for a fresh tasting & healthy lunch. I stock up on canned artichoke hearts when on sale and use the water packed Costco brand albacore. One of these days I will try the whole sandwich!

Alaawesomesauce

almost 3 years ago a la Alison

Looks amazing! there is a french cafe in my neighborhood that serves this (my favorite!) and they also include hard boiled egg slices and potatoes. I love!

Default-small

about 3 years ago jlsm

One more thing. ... I recently discovered "Wild Planet" canned tuna. Absolutely fantastic and worth every penny of the extra cost. It's processed only once without the addition of any oil or water. Inside, you find a solid piece of tuna. This is unlike any canned tuna I've ever tried.

Default-small

about 3 years ago jlsm

I loved the idea of mixing things together instead of layering them. I did make a few changes, though. I cut the olives to 1/4 C and added a teaspoon of rinsed capers and two salt anchovies that I slivered. I also put in a layer of thinly sliced hard-boiled egg. I will add tomatoes when they become plentiful. I also cut the dressing in half (300 calories in oil alone per serving!), substituted red wine vinegar for lemon juice and added a touch of dijon.

I know these seem like many changes, but they really weren't. I found that the filling was enough for 3/4ths of a baguette and at least four sandwiches.

Really excellent. Thanks.

Nlp_8843

about 3 years ago aquarius

This will solve my problem of what to make for guests arriving Friday afternoon about the time I get home from work. A casual outdoor dinner with some of the drinks featured on your home page today -- Thanks!

Default-small

about 3 years ago RSwanson

Hi. I made this sandwich and it was delicious. however, after letting it sit overnight the bottom of the baguette was soggy and the top of the baguette was no longer crispy. is this how it is supposed to be? I actually ate half of it when it was fresh, and the baguette was crispy and thought it was more delicious. I'm interested to hear what others think.
Cheers!

Default-small

about 3 years ago Lis

Dear Sarah Shatz, that first photo is a masterpiece! Thank you.

Default-small

about 3 years ago daisypom

Iv'e been looking for picnic recipe's. This looks like a perfect one, thank you.

Default-small

about 3 years ago nice rice

Thank you so much for a transportable ,delicious sandwich !
I am bringing it along to an impromptu lunch with friends tomorrow . I love ,love ,love this site . Thanks again , Waverly

Logo-fb

about 3 years ago Waverly

I hope you enjoy it! Have fun at your lunch.

Default-small

over 3 years ago slanoue

Just wondering, what canned tuna people are using for this recipe?

Summer_2010_1048

over 3 years ago Midge

I made it the other day using Genova packed in olive oil. The best canned tuna if you ask me. Trader Joe's always has it and Whole Foods carries it sometimes too. Great recipe!

Logo-fb

over 3 years ago Waverly

Yes, Midge is right. It is best to use tuna packed in olive oil. If you can't find that, just use regular albacore. Drain it. The olive oil packed tuna has more flavor (because of the fat from the oil), but you can still make a decent pan bagnat without it. The vinaigrette does most of the work anyway.

Alinasorescu

almost 4 years ago bistro_gal

We had this for lunch today and it was so, so good. I thought the basil was genius and it just added one more layer of delicious flavor. I was a little concerned that it may become soggy but the crust stayed crusty while the middle was just a perfect medley of flavors. Added bonus: it helped me avoid the mid afternoon slump when I start dreaming of Nutella instead of focusing on programming and writing. Thank you for sharing and congratulations on a well deserved win!

Logo-fb

almost 4 years ago Waverly

I am glad you enjoyed it, bistro_gal.

Default-small

almost 4 years ago Creative Tonic

Way to go Waverly!!!

Logo-fb

almost 4 years ago Waverly

Thanks!

Logo-fb

almost 4 years ago Waverly

Thanks to you all!

Junechamp

almost 4 years ago ChefJune

June is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Congrats, Waverly. A great win for a great recipe.;)

Christine-28_small(1)

almost 4 years ago cheese1227

Congrats, Waverly. This is a beauty.

Steve_dunn02

almost 4 years ago Oui, Chef

Way to go Waverly! Such a delicious looking treat, congratulations!

Default-small

almost 4 years ago yummyyummy

Congratulations Waverly!

Default-small

almost 4 years ago adamnsvetcooking

Congratulations! We made this sandwich for out apple picking picnic trip, and every one loved it! I is a great recipe!

186003_1004761561_1198459_n

almost 4 years ago dymnyno

This sandwich is packed with all my favorite ingredients. And, despite all the rhetoric on whether it is a proper nicoise or pan bagnat, a great tuna sandwich has always been my favorite. (and I personally think that potatoes would detract from the other ingredients). Congratulations!

Lobster_001

almost 4 years ago nannydeb

Congratulations! Well done!

Img_1958

almost 4 years ago gingerroot

Congratulations Waverly!

Mrs._larkin_370

almost 4 years ago mrslarkin

Mrs. Larkin is a trusted source on Baking.

Yay, Waverly! Congratulations!

Image

almost 4 years ago drbabs

Barbara is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Congratulations, Waverly--this is a great sandwich! So happy for you!

399571_2853636453848_1694221275_n

almost 4 years ago TiggyBee

Congrats Waverly!! : )

Profilepic

almost 4 years ago Rivka

Congrats Waverly! This really was a lovely recipe. :)

Img_1958

almost 4 years ago gingerroot

I made this today and it was absolutely delicious!! I cannot wait to eat the other half of my sandwich tomorrow. To be completely honest, it was so good I'm not sure I will ever be able to make it without devouring it immediately : ). I had a little of the tuna mixture leftover and enjoyed it on pasta for dinner - yum!

Lnd_jen

almost 4 years ago lastnightsdinner

Pan Bagnat is one of my absolute favorite things in the world. I love making them for picnics and lunch breaks in the middle of a long bike ride with my husband, and your version looks amazing.

Default-small

almost 4 years ago snpulling

I made this for a picnic over the weekend, along with the other contestant, the chick pea, yam, and zucchini salad. Both were delicious, but this sandwhich is stellar. The combination of flavors is amazing and it is beautiful as well. The basil and garlic really makes the sandwhich so don't skip those elements. Wow! Just wow!

Logo-fb

almost 4 years ago Waverly

Thank you for your comments. I am so happy that you all enjoy pan bagnat as much as I do. I think it makes perfect picnic food and this is a lovely time of year to do that. It also makes a great sandwich for a day at the beach. I do not think there is any one way to make any dish - there is and never has been only one kind of salad nicoise or only one kind of pan bagnat. Like most other dishes, there are regional as well as seasonal variations. Personally, this is the best pan bagnat I've ever had. I agree with you fiveandspice, it is a delicious circus of flavors.

Sausage2

almost 4 years ago fiveandspice

Emily is a trusted source on Scandinavian Cuisine.

Had a chance to try this this weekend, and wowzer! It was wonderful. Such a beautiful combination of flavors and colors - it was like it a circus. A delicious circus.

Me

almost 4 years ago CuriousH

this sandwich is ridiculously good! yum yum yumm......

Default-small

almost 4 years ago Gale

Some of the comments are interesting though mrslarkin has the best rejoinder by far. I am going to assume, however, since it's not specific as to ingredients, that a "pan bagnat" is more of a 'generic' sandwich alllowing one to stuff the hard crusted bread with whatever on likes, has on hand. and where it's going to be eaten. I have rarely had two alike. I happen to think it's great airplane food but do it differently than if I am going to eat at home. This is a lovely version - and like the idea of feta alongside. Congratulations.

Junechamp

almost 4 years ago ChefJune

June is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Salade Niçoise and Pan Bagnat are each as different as the individual who makes them. Althought I have "my way" to make them, I have been served many different (and delicious) versions of both in France and also here in US. Imho this version of Pan Bagnat looks tasty and gorgeous. ;) I just hope more folks become familiar with this tasty treat.

Newliztoqueicon-2

almost 4 years ago Lizthechef

Time to start giving the thumbs up, never too late. mrslarkin, right behind you. Thumbs up!

Default-small

almost 4 years ago VenusCafe

It is missing hard boiled egg and anchovies; it ain't Nicoise without those two.

Default-small

almost 4 years ago bambino

Your comments seem rather hostile, surely you have something better to do?

Mrs._larkin_370

almost 4 years ago mrslarkin

Mrs. Larkin is a trusted source on Baking.

So stick it in yours when you make it and it will be a Nicoise sandwich.

Lnd_jen

almost 4 years ago lastnightsdinner

@mrslarkins how do I "Like" your reply ;D

Default-small

almost 4 years ago lauracale

Waverly, WOW! Looks wonderful! Can't wait to try it! Congrats to you!

Default-small

almost 4 years ago bethie

This looks great! I would also love it if you could do a corresponding piece on the Italian version of pan bagnat they do at Brooklyn Larder.

Default-small

almost 4 years ago VenusCafe

It is missing the hard boiled egg. This is a must! It also lacks the potato. I can see leaving the potato out as that is a real burden, but for heaven's sake, put in the hard boiled egg please!

Logo-fb

almost 4 years ago Waverly

PS. Thank you to Food 52 for this beautiful photograph. I know what I am having for lunch!

Logo-fb

almost 4 years ago Waverly

I am flattered that you all like my sandwich...thrilled actually. These days, I make lots of turkey on whole wheat and PBJs for my children who are creatures of habit and would rebel if I tried anything off of that well-trod path. I, however; am a sucker for the pan bagnat. The Nicoise salad is a favorite, but put it on French bread, and, well, it just takes you someplace else. Bon Appetit!

Steve_dunn02

almost 4 years ago Oui, Chef

What a beautiful, beautiful thing. Love the bold flavors and the varied textures you include here, makes me wish all of my meals were a brown bag lunch. - S

Stringio

almost 4 years ago testkitchenette

Yes, please!

Sunshine_in_my_glass

almost 4 years ago Heena

This looks positively sumptuous. Congrats!!

Img_1958

almost 4 years ago gingerroot

YUM! I love everything you have in this sandwich. Congrats on being a finalist!!

Image

almost 4 years ago drbabs

Barbara is a trusted source on General Cooking.

This looks like the most delicious sandwich. Congratulations on being a finalist!

Junechamp

almost 4 years ago ChefJune

June is a trusted source on General Cooking.

actually, one of my favorite Pan Bagnat's ever (in Chateauneuf-du-Pape) had no tuna at all, and had boiled potatoes as the mainstay! In France, you're just as likely to find the sandwich on a round, ciabatta-like roll.

Default-small

almost 4 years ago VenusCafe

In France, the bread is usually round... but ciabatta-like??? i don't theeeeenk so!
The French would never allow bread that was that over floured for their pan bagnat.
Their pan bagnat bread is more like a round bagette, crispy and clean.
At least in the cote d'azur they ONLY use that kind of bread.

399571_2853636453848_1694221275_n

almost 4 years ago TiggyBee

What a rude comment, venuscafe, what point does it serve?

Default-small

almost 4 years ago bambino

Yes, it is a rude comment. I would never presume to correct someone on their experience. Some people have no tact.

Default-small

almost 4 years ago MiraliP

Interesting, bambini. You choose to chastise VenusCafe for correcting someone else's experience, yet you did the same to his/her comment about having a particular experience with Nicoise salads (preferring them with eggs and anchovies) above. Pot?...Hello, Kettle? Are you there? People should not take this comment section so seriously. It's a food blog for goodness sake.

399571_2853636453848_1694221275_n

almost 4 years ago TiggyBee

How exciting!! Congrats on being a finalist!!!

Newliztoqueicon-2

almost 4 years ago Lizthechef

When's lunch ?! Congrats -

Twitter

almost 4 years ago ashtonkeefe

My favorite way to have a tuna sandwich, skip the mayo!! Looks lovely!

Monkeys

almost 4 years ago monkeymom

Congrats on making the finals Waverly! Looks delicious!

Pict0051

almost 4 years ago Annelle

Double 'yum'!

Mrs._larkin_370

almost 4 years ago mrslarkin

Mrs. Larkin is a trusted source on Baking.

I'm hungry now! This looks great, Waverly.

Profilepic

almost 4 years ago Rivka

This looks lovely! A favorite gourmet grocery store near my high school served something like this, and I bought it at least once a week. Good luck!

Summer_2010_1048

almost 4 years ago Midge

Sounds like the perfect lunch to me.