Pan Bagnat: The French Tuna Sandwich That's Meant To Be Soggy

Pan Bagnat, or "bathed bread" in French, is often called the perfect picnic sandwich for its elevated ingredients and rich flavors. In reality, this sandwich that comes from Nice, France, is great to make ahead of time and actually gets better the longer it sits. The French favorite is essentially a Niçoise salad pressed in an olive oil-brushed loaf of bread. The Pan Bagnat is not only a stunning centerpiece, it's easy to make. (Needless to say, you'll want to look at our ultimate Pan Bagnat recipe for your next gathering.) And this classic recipe is also flexible. The ingredients can be adapted to your taste, as demonstrated by the ultimate dynamic duo, Julia Child and Jaques Pépin, during an episode of their show — they even added brie cheese to theirs. 

Are you reading about the sandwich of your dreams? If you'd like to learn les secrets about this perfect French bite, keep reading!

Tuna, but make it French

Pan Bagnat is the sandwich that defies all soggy stereotypes. There is, however, an art to this bathed sandwich that you'll want to keep in mind. The key is to properly prep a quality loaf with good olive oil, according to Simply Recipes. Brushing the loaf before placing the fish, veggies, and hard-boiled egg slices protects the baguette so that when the ingredients are pressed together, the juices don't completely disintegrate the beautiful bread. There's even a version of the recipe where the baguette is lightly toasted beforehand, further strengthening the crust, according to Bon Appétit. Eating European recommends substituting a quality ciabatta if a fresh baguette isn't available to you. 

Each ingredient stands out in this dish, so you'll want to use as many fresh products as possible when putting together your sandwich. Olive oil-packed tuna in a glass jar instead of water-packed tuna will help create the right amount of rich juiciness, especially when mixed with the olive tapenade, ripe tomatoes, and white onions.

It's a wrap

While the Pan Bagnat is not a wrap, the wrapping process is key! You can make this sandwich either the night before your gathering or a few hours before serving (preferably at least four). After stacking your masterpiece, you'll want to wrap the sandwich tightly in plastic. The methodology for ensuring that all of the flavors blend together varies, from The New York Times' suggestion to have a child sit on it to placing a cast-iron skillet on top or simply pressing it down as you wrap it. Or, you can come up with your own variation.

Once the Pan Bagnat is pressed, simply slice it with a serrated knife, either while still wrapped in plastic or after it's been unwrapped, and voila! For full French picnic vibes, serve with a charcuterie board and pair with your favorite sparkling wine or non-alcoholic sparkling cider. Bon appétit!