Looking for new ideas to make interesting sandwiches your kids will eat? Pan bagnat, the street food of Nice, is the answer. Think of salade niçoise and you have the portable sandwich version. I have to admit my lunches were not that inspiring…sorry mom. To be fair, though, she had to make four lunches so some days (usually after grocery day) those would be the best-packed lunches. To my mom’s credit, they were usually healthy with at least two servings of fruit and dessert consisted of miniature canned fruit. I liked peaches and apple sauce but if there was a can of mixed fruit (too many chopped pears for my liking), I’d use them as a bargaining chip with some of my school friends; one fruit cup for one bag of chips or whatever was on that day. My youngest sister used to hide her lunches behind the furnace until one day my father smelled something a bit off. What were your school lunches like?
When my kids were little, I tried to mix it up for them so as to not get the same sandwich twice in the week. Sandwich making, I admit, is a chore. There are only so many possibilities and keeping the bread dry is another obstacle. I cannot tell you how many soaked sandwiches I had – tomatoes and sliced cucumbers were the worst culprits. I used to pick out the ingredients and throw away the soggy bread. You will be pleased to read that pan bagnat actually allows for some of the bread to be moist. Because the sandwich is made the night before and weighted down, the juices from the ingredients spread throughout making this one helluva sandwich your kids won’t want to trade!
The ingredients are simple, wholesome, and delicious. Use the recipe as a guide and include whatever veggies you have on hand. You can also use a crusty round loaf of bread, cut the top off, hollow out the bread and layer the ingredients. Cover with the top, wrap and refrigerate overnight.
French loaf cut in half or a small ciabatta cut in half
1 tablespoon capers, rinsed
roasted red peppers, sliced
1 can tuna, packed in oil
marinated artichoke hearts, sliced
fresh basil leaves
anchovies, oil packed
red onion, thinly sliced
extra-virgin olive oil
white wine vinegar (I used white balsamic vinegar)
Remove some of the bread to make each half slightly hollow (I only did one-half). Lightly brush olive oil on both halves of bread. Build the sandwich by layering on sliced tomatoes, peppers, artichokes, onion slices, olives, anchovies, capers, tuna and fresh basil leaves. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Drizzle with white wine vinegar. Place the other bread half on top, squish down a bit. Wrap up tightly with tin foil or cling film and place in refrigerator. Weigh it down with something heavy like a saucepan or brick. Leave overnight and next morning, slice up.
The Culinary Chase’s Note: Don’t worry about the anchovies as they seem to dissolve into the bread and the red onion slices mellow. Enjoy!