I know, a sandwich. What a terribly mundane idea for a blog post.
This sandwich is different, I swear. I wrestle with myself over recipe ideas all the time, thinking “it’s been done” or “it’s boring” or “who needs a recipe for that?” or “how interesting could a vegetarian sandwich be without cheese?!”. This blog is supposed to represent foods that I like to eat regularly; sandwiches definitely fall into that category, so I unashamedly present to you my take on a pan bagnat. People have this idea in mind that vegetarian/vegan food is supremely bland or uninteresting; while that may be true of some stuff, I hope this sandwich proves otherwise. When I think about food options that I wish existed in Kingston, this type of food comes to mind. I want something fairly wholesome, inexpensive, with a lot of flavour.
I was flipping through Sarah B‘s cookbook and saw the pan bagnat, which is basically a Nicoise salad on a bun. The name translates to ‘bathed bread’, because all the flavours soak into the bread as you let it sit, and it is insanely delicious. Her recipe drew me in with its bright flavours and colours, and so I thought that I would like to eat something similar, but with a more middle Eastern influence. My sincerest apologies to the people of Nice, France*: this tastes pretty different from the OG pan bagnat.
I have this oddly dichotomous approach to cooking. There are days when I stare blearily into the fridge, have tumbleweeds rolling through my skull, and lay on the couch ignoring my rumbling stomach because I am too tired/lazy/uninspired to make anything. And then other days I’m making granola, yogurt, veg stock, planning meals for the upcoming week, all while tending to some rising bread.
This sandwich is sort of the best of both worlds: it’s a bit of prep to make the components (when I have more energy), but then you have everything in your fridge to easily throw together some not-boring sandwiches for lunch all week long! It’s totally worth it: the muhammara is great for dipping vegetables, and probably also great tossed with pasta. The preserved lemons will keep in your fridge for a while (assuming your container is clean and they are submerged in the lemon juice), and add a really incredible rounded lemon flavour to any dish.
*Speaking of France: I am going there very shortly (t minus six days) on a little adventure to WWOOF on an organic farm!
middle eastern inspired pan bagnat (vegetarian)
serves 2 with leftovers of muhammara and mashed beans
ciabatta or other crusty bread
one batch of muhammara
15 oz can of cannellini beans
1/4 cup finely chopped preserved lemons (this or this faster one)
2 teaspoons tahini
1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper
1/8 teaspoon sumac
arugula or other greens
2 hard boiled eggs, peeled and sliced
handful of string beans, blanched
handful of chopped pitted olives
sliced red onion
a handful of torn coriander
Slice the bread lengthwise, and pull out some of the bread guts to make room for all the filling. Dip the bread guts in extra muhammara! Spoon the bottom half with a generous amount of muhammara. Mash the cannellini beans with the preserved lemon, tahini, 1 tablespoon olive oil, salt, pepper and sumac, leaving it a bit textured. Add a generous amount of this next, then layer on the eggs, beans, olives, onions, arugula, and coriander. Brush the top half of the bread with olive oil, place it on top, then wrap it up and put it in the fridge. This type of sandwich gets better as it soaks in all the flavours. We wrapped it up and enjoyed it a couple hours later on a roadside quick picnic by the lake after we went apple picking.
– this is easily made vegan by leaving out the hardboiled eggs.