"If you obey all of the rules, you miss all of the fun."
I told Claud that I wanted to make a pan bagnat and then to write about making a pan bagnat and he said, "That's a bit summery, don't you think."
A finished pan bagnat.
The necessary ingredients — crusty french bread, tomatoes, onions, sliced fresh mozarella and basil, and garbanzo beans mixed with capers, garlic, olives, vinegar, oil, salt and pepper.
Building the sandwich, layer by layer.
Tomatoes go on next.
Onions are the final layer. Then add the top crust of bread, press sandwich in a pan, and let it soak in the refrigerator for half an hour.
I replied with, "Yeah, so?" I was in the mood for this beautiful and delicious sandwich and I didn't think the season should stop me from enjoying it. Besides, we are going to be bombarded with tons of unhealthy holiday meals and maybe we all need to know how to make an easy and good for you dish for in between parties.
So, I did it. I don't care if it was too summery. I can be wild like that. Sometimes, I like to have a drink in the early afternoon. I like to say, "Hey, it's five o'clock somewhere." I also like to spread happy hour past an hour. Sometimes, it takes several happy hours to suffice. I can be a real rule breaker if I want to be.
Pan Bagnat is a sandwich that is very popular in Nice, France. Ahh, Nice. I love it there. Yesterday, I ran into an older man at the swap meet here in Las Vegas who was from Provence, France. First, we were discussing the beta fish that he had at his shop. Jack was interested in buying one. Somehow our conversation turned to France. The shop owner told me that if we were going to be back in Provence, France anytime soon, we should come and talk to him because he knows so many people there. He said he could get us a discount on a great place to go horseback riding. Wouldn't that be wonderful? I'd really enjoy horseback riding through the south of France.
Time: 1 hour
1 large crusty loaf of French bread
2 tomatoes, halved (reserve half) and then thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, halved (to rub on bread), then chopped
can garbanzo beans
2 tablespoons capers
2 tablespoons kalamata olives, chopped
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
onion, thinly sliced
5 slices mozzarella cheese (optional)
cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh basil, cut into ribbons
Slice the French bread in half. Scoop out some of the inside of the bread. Rub one half of the tomato all over the inside of the bread. In a bowl, combine garbanzo beans and chopped garlic. Mash a bit with a potato masher. Add capers, olives, vinegar, oil, salt and pepper. Mix well. Place this mixture onto the inside of the bread. Top with onions, cheese, parsley, and basil. Place the top of the bread onto the sandwich. Place into a ban and cover with something flat and hard. Set inside the refrigerator to flatten for at least a half hour. Take it out and slice it into pieces. Serve with avocado slices.
Claud was away from me looking at other things and walked up to us while we were having a great conversation about France. I could tell that Claud thought I was crazy for talking to this French man, not because he was French but because he was a complete stranger. But, I didn't care. I loved talking to him and reminiscing about France with him. I appreciated his accent. I liked how he smelled like coffee. He reminded me that I really should learn to speak French. I loved how he made me feel like someday soon I could be horseback riding in Nice. Who knows? Sometimes, I just have to do things my way. If I had thought of it at the time, I would have asked if Pan Bagnats are strictly a summertime meal. Maybe I'll remember to ask him if I see him there again.
Maybe Claud thinks it is so summery because he always visited France as a child in the summertime. Who knows, the French might eat these year round? Neither one of us really knows for certain.
Most people think that eating soggy bread is pretty gross. This sandwich actually promotes the use of soggy bread. The literal translation of pan bagnat is, "bathed wet bread". So, in a sense, this sandwich is a bit of a rebel itself. It's not a rule follower. Although, when you use proper crusty French bread, only a bit of the inside gets soggy. It actually just makes it so flavorful and not so much soggy. It's more delicious than soggy. To make it, you will rub tomatoes and garlic into the bread. This adds so many flavors to the bread. You will love it.
Then, in order to make a proper pan bagnat, one must place something flat over the sandwich and squash it down with weight. Whenever I make sandwiches, I avoid pressing them down flat. I usually try to cut mine in half while attempting not to squash the contents. On the other hand, my dad presses his sandwich down flat when he cuts it in half. He likes to flatten any sandwich. So, I am not sure there is a rule about this. For me, pressing it flat is breaking the rule. For othersnot so much. In the end, this soggy, flat sandwich is so good. You will love it.
Be a rebel like I was and make it in the Fall. Maybe this will be the start of some serious rule breaking for you. Who knows, I may just go ahead and wear something white tomorrow, even though it is well after Labor Day. You never can tell which rule I might break. I could wear open toe shoes, white pants, finish my pan bangnat and drink champagne for lunch tomorrow. Watch out, world. I'm breaking some rules here.