There is nothing more hideous than wet bread. FACT.
When I was a child we would occasionally go on a family picnic. When I say picnic, of course I mean we would sit-in-the-car-in-a-layby-eating-chicken-drumsticks,-damp-sandwiches-&-warm-orange-squash. We would have Salad Sandwiches which, now I’ve said it out loud, is actually quite unusual – slices of white sliced bread, slathered in tonnes of butter and filled with iceberg lettuce & tomatoes. Quite tasty if you ate them immediately but after 3 hours in a humid Citroen 2CV the tomato juice would make the bread all soggy and flaccid. Weird? Yes, but not nearly as weird as my Scottish grandparents who actually ate those soft butter lettuces sprinkled with granulated sugar. I have no idea why or how and, despite literally minutes of internet research, can’t see any reference to anyone else ever eating lettuce in this way. Ho hum.
So, to the point of this – Pan Bagnat – which I believe means ‘wet bread’. It’s made in various parts of the Med but I think originates from Nice in the South of France. It’s essentially a loaf of rustic bread, hollowed out and stuffed with all sorts of lovely bits and pieces – it is really rather delicious and pretty much the perfect picnic food. As always, mine is not especially authentic but did make a rather brilliant job of cleaning our all the random pots of deli bits that I accumulate in the fridge.
1 loaf of rustic, crusty bread
Chargrilled Artichokes, Red peppers (you could make them yourself or just use the ones you get in jars)
Couple of slices of parma
Ball of mozzarella sliced up
Basil, Parsley leaves
Peppery EV olive oil & balsamic vinegar
All you need to do is slice the top off your loaf of bread and carefully scoop out the middle of the loaf – you can use all this for breadcrumbs. Dress the veg in the olive oil and vinegar and then layer up all the ingredients inside the loaf – pressing down each layer. I tried to not put the tomatoes on outside of the loaf as I was keen to avoid the soggy sandwich of yesteryear… Then pop the bread lid on top, wrap the whole loaf tightly in foil and put into the fridge under something heavy – like a pan or a couple of tins on a plate. Leave it under the weight for 24 hours and then take out of the fridge to come up to room temperature before eating. Cut into wedges and serve with a little green salad. With or without a dusting of granulated sugar…