Vegetarian (Chickpea) Pan Bagnat
A subscriber-exclusive extra
As I mentioned in the recipe for the pan bagnat bread, pan bagnat is a dish from the from the south of France that is a sort of a salad Niçoise in portable, picnic-ready sandwich form: tuna and/or anchovies, hard boiled eggs, olives, onions, tomatoes, herbs, and a tart red wine vinegar-olive oil dressing, all stuffed into a wide, round crusty roll and pressed for awhile to draw everything together. The name pan bagnat means ‘bathed bread’ in Niçoise, referring to the way that the dressing saturates and softens the bread. This is based upon my Cook’s Illustrated recipe, but with with chickpeas in place of the tuna, no anchovies, and a bump up in olives and capers to give it necessary depth.
A few notes:
Toasting the bread before filling the sandwich helps mitigate over softening of the bread as it “bathes,” so don’t skip that step.
If you wanted to go full vegan with this sandwich (I’m not there yet myself), obviously just leave out the hard-boiled eggs and increase the tomatoes and chickpeas slightly.
The chickpea-olive mixture is nice on its own, too. Given that pan bagnat is just a sandwiched salad Niçoise, you can easily turn it back into one by adding some greens and cutting the hard-boiled eggs and tomatoes into chunks rather than slices.
My wife doesn’t like olives, so I had to find other people to take all the testing pan bagnats off my hands. I gave one to a neighbor whose favorite restaurant is Jersey Mike’s. He wasn’t prepared to say it was better than one of Mike’s famous subs, but he did say it was an “excellent sandwich, 5 stars,” which was good enough for me.
Chickpea Pan Bagnat
Makes two 8-inch sandwiches, serving 6 to 8