Everyone knows that we Brits invented the sandwich, but, like most things we invented, they have since been done much better by the rest of the world. Those in the south of France – and the city of Nice in particular – have enjoyed making pan bagnat for generations. Translated, the name means “wet (or bathed) bread.” It is simple, but robust, and made with hearty bread and fresh Nicoise salad vegetables. Later incarnations have included tuna and eggs.
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“Campagne rond” - or round, brown, crusty loaf Olive oil – about three tablespoons 2 tomatoes 1 small red onion 1 green pepper Handful of broad beans, cooked Handful of olives, de-stoned A small bunch of basil leaves, torn A few anchovies
Optional – vinegar, garlic cloves, tuna, hard-boiled eggs.
The bread is stipulated as being “campagne rond,” or a round country loaf. Any good quality brown bread will do, as long as it's round, with a good crust and freshly baked. Simply cut it in half and generously add olive oil to each side. If you want to add more fillings and be a little adventurous you could hollow the loaf out and fill it with the ingredients, along with the chopped up removed bread. Only use sliced bread if you really don't have anything else.
The filling of any sandwich is where the magic happens, so choose the freshest veg possible. Slice the tomatoes, green pepper, and onion – adding them in layers to the base of the loaf as you go. Scatter the cooked beans on, drape the anchovies over and sprinkle the olives and torn basil leaves to finish. Season with salt and pepper and cut into quarters, or however many portions you want.
For the less puritanical out there, there are some common additions to the pan bagnat, many of which are as authentic as the traditional format, but are mere regional variations. The most common are sliced hard-boiled eggs, tuna and radish. You can also add bags of flavour by rubbing each side of the loaf with a halved garlic clove after you put the olive oil on, and then sprinkling them with vinegar.
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