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pan bagnat-1

pan bagnat-2

My friend turned me on to these lovely, picnic-able French sandwiches, using an olive tapenade in place of anchovies. Otherwise known as tuna niçoise sandwiches. I used to have one for lunch all the time when I was a pescatarian but I didn’t even think they could be veganized. Thanks Kelly!

The best, bestest thing about these are they can stand the test of time, in fact, they are meant to. Like a fine fermented soy bean, they only get better with age. Think how lovely bruschetta is when the crusty bread has absorbed the garlic/basil/tomato/olive oil juices. Same philosphy. I plan to make a few of these, wrap them in tin foil, weight them for an hour or so, toss them in the cooler, head to the beach, unwrap, slice and eat with a cold beer or perhaps a sauvignon blanc.

Ingredients
Makes one pan bagnat
1/2 baguette or ciabbata
1 clove garlic
mixed marinated olives or black olive tapenade
2 artichoke hearts, halved or quartered
1 persian cucumber
2 shallots
1 tbs capers
1 ripe tomato, sliced
handful basil leaves
soft lettuce, arugula or baby kale (optional)
white bean dip or hummus
extra virgin olive oil
red wine vinegar
dijon mustard
salt and pepper

*other vegetables will work too, such as roasted peppers, blanched asparagus or green beans, hearts of palm, etc.

1) Prepare the bread first. If using a baguette, slice it open and scoop out the inside. If using a ciabatta, don’t bother as this bread is soft enough. Smash the garlic clove and rub it inside the bread. Set aside.
2) Make a vinaigrette by combining a splash of red wine vinegar, extra virgin olive oil (2:1 olive oil to vinegar), a tsp of dijon mustard and salt and pepper (fresh ground). Thinly slice the cucumber and shallot and mix with the vinaigrette.
3) Spoon the cucumber/shallot vinaigrette into the baguette and spread evenly. Next spread a bit of white bean dip or hummus. Then layer the vegetables–the tapenade/olives, tomatoes, capers, artichokes, basil and lettuce. Add another splash of extra virgin olive oil and a grind of pepper.
4) Wrap the sandwich tightly in tinfoil or wax paper and put a weight on it (a book, a cutting board with something heavy on it) for about an hour. Then refrigerate (even overnight will work!) for your picnic or slice and eat straightaway.

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