So you want to go hiking/camping/road tripping but you don’t know what to do about lunch? Are you miles from civilization (but blissfully deep in wilderness) and your granola bar is just not going to cut it? Want to totally win the glamping game and make all the other campers jealous?
Never fear, the days of snack lunch and smashed peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are over. Let us introduce you to the most amazing sandwich on the planet. It is gourmet, packable, and gets better with age. Behold, the pan bagnat! (Sorry to be overly dramatic, but I really love this sandwich).
Pan bagnat is a sandwich that originates from Nice, France and traditionally is comprised of day-old bread and salade niçoise (raw vegetables, hard-boiled eggs, anchovies or tuna, olive oil, and salt & pepper). It can also include basil, artichokes, olives, garlic, and vinegar. We have adapted the traditional construction into a culinary masterpiece that accompanies us on pretty much every hike and camping trip. We’ll share our recipe but the beautiful thing is the combinations are endless, making it a sandwich that everyone can make their own.
What makes pan bagnat so amazing for picnicking? First, it tastes better the next day. Make them the night before, store them in the fridge, and pop them in your pack the next morning as you head out. It saves you time in the morning AND you’ve given all those lovely ingredients a night to meld together. Yum.
Second, this is a sandwich that actually likes to be squished. You’ll notice we put A LOT of stuff between those slices of bread and squishing it down helps keep everything inside the sandwich and manageable to eat. Sometimes we even put weight on it (a plate or can of beans) to squish it even further. So it can totally withstand a long drive between two cold bottles of IPA or buried in the depths of your day pack. Hearty in more ways than one.
Third, it can get a little warm. We don’t put fish in our version (which would definitely spoil) solely so that it keeps better for our hiking adventures. The lack of mayonnaise and super heat sensitive cheeses like mozzarella or chevre mean it can hang out on your sweaty back all morning and be totally fine without an ice pack. At least in our experience. It still has a shelf life, so don’t go nuts or anything. But for two people who have hiked with Bánh mì and caprese sandwiches, the pan bagnat definitely wins the longevity award.
And fourth, you will be the envy of every other hiker and camper within range. Imagine reaching the pinnacle of the hike: the viewpoint, the waterfall, the deep blue pool and while everyone else is munching on their trail mix (if that), you pull out the sandwich of all sandwiches. Lean back on your mossy rock or hammock and bask in the envious glow. Enjoy your culinary creation, and know you’ll be well fueled for the miles (and adventures) ahead.
Lisa and Wendy’s Pan Bagnat:
Start with 2 slices of good bread (like Grand Central) or 2 rolls. Something substantial enough and not too hole-y.
Drizzle bread with olive oil. Not so much that it soaks through (messy!) but if it does a little, that’s ok.
Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Add pretty much anything of your choosing. Our favorite components include: spinach/arugula/any green, sliced hard boiled egg, cucumber slices, bell pepper, basil, kalamata olives, capers (because everything is better with capers), and thin shavings of parmesan cheese.
Wrap sandwich in parchment paper or Bee’s Wrap (this stuff is amazing). Be sure to wrap it tightly and even squish it down a bit so all those ingredients get real cozy with each other).
Refrigerate overnight and keep cool for as long as you can. It should be fine away from a cold source for several hours.
Note: these can be messy and there is a high probability some of your components will fall out. Please protect wildlife and pack out any bits that may have found their way to the forest floor.
All content copyright Lisa Goshe Photography, 2019