The Provençal/Occitan words pan bagnat mean ‘bathed bread’ and it’s a wonderful alternative to a sandwich for picnics or, as we ate today, lunch in the garden. Originally from Nice on the Côte d’Azur, it’s now eaten all over southern France and further afield. Our daughter says it was a favourite lunch for her when she lived in Toulouse, where she used to buy it made with the traditional Niçois round bread from one of the may wonderful boulangeries in the centre of la ville rose. I make them using a simple baguette, and sometimes with ham which is not very authentic. Today I used the more traditional tinned tuna, sliced tomatoes, some chopped garlic, some chopped black olives, capers and basil leaves. You can also add anchovies or sliced hard-boiled eggs.
I sliced the baguette lengthwise, poured olive oil on the cut surfaces and filled it with the other ingredients and a little salt and pepper.
Then I closed it firmly and pressed the two halves together. The idea is that the bread soaks up all the delicious juices. It can be wrapped in aluminium foil and kept in the fridge for a few hours until you’re ready to eat it, then it can be sliced into portions for serving.
The weather here is still cooler than usual for July and one of the advantages of this is that it’s not too hot to eat lunch in the garden. Normally at this time of the year we stay indoors at midday with the shutters closed and wait for the cooler temperatures of the evening. Today we sat in the shade to eat our pan bagnat after harvesting some more vegetables and a huge crop of apples from our small tree.
peppers and aubergines