This classic Provençal sandwich, which means “soaked bread” in the ancient Nice dialect, is nothing more than a Salade Niçoise served between two pieces of bread. In the old days it was considered to be a humble food, made with ingredients that every household would have on hand.
But today Pan Bagnat is fashionable fare. And for good reason: it makes an extraordinarily delicious and satisfying meal.
In my version, the grilled peppers add a bit of depth to this simple sandwich, and the basil vinaigrette soaks the whole thing with its ambrosial fragrance – making it the quintessential summer sandwich! —Viviane Bauquet Farre
For the peppers and vinaigrette
large red bell peppers – quartered; stems, seeds and veins removed
large basil leaves
aged balsamic or red wine vinegar
extra virgin olive oil
garlic clove – peeled
freshly ground black pepper to taste
For the sandwich
pitted Niçoise or Kalamata olives, coarsely chopped
capers – drained and finely chopped
baguette or ciabatta rolls
scallions – white and pale green part cut in 1/8” slices (1/2 cup)
hard boiled eggs – shelled and cut in 1/4” slices
medium ripe tomatoes – cut in 1/4” slices
seedless cucumber – cut in 1/8” slices (use a mandoline or hand slicer)
Brush the peppers with olive oil and set aside on a tray. When the grill is ready, place peppers directly on the grill, cut side up, and grill until charred, about 4 to 5 minutes. Turn peppers over and grill until well charred, about 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a tray and set aside. (Alternatively, you can roast the peppers under the broiler, following the same directions as for grilling them.)
To make the vinaigrette – Place all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and process until basil is very finely chopped and vinaigrette is smooth. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
In a small bowl, mix the olives and capers. Set aside.
Cut rolls in half. Lightly toast cut side on the grill or under broiler. Drizzle both sides of the rolls with two thirds of the vinaigrette to soak the bread. Top the bottom half of each roll with the grilled peppers, olive/caper mixture, scallions and egg slices. Drizzle with the balance of the vinaigrette. Top with the tomato and cucumber slices. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Finish with the top-side of the rolls, press slightly with your hand, and cut sandwiches in half. Serve with a leafy green salad with mustard vinaigrette.