Just not into the regular, run-of-the-mill picnic fare? I don’t blame you one bit. Here’s an idea that might just do the trick. It’s fancy name is Pan Bagnat, but a pressed sandwich by any other name tastes just as good. I love this recipe because it begs you to make it your own, and put whatever your heart desires into it. I’ve made a couple of different versions for you to take a look at, so take or leave whatever you like. You drive. It’s your picnic.
We start with a nice big round loaf of bread. I chose a Rosemary Sourdough, but any round loaf will do. Hollow him out, leaving about half an inch or so of bread all the way around. You can reserve the soft bread from inside and make breadcrumbs out of it, or just slather them with butter and eat them like….um…I did.
Me being me, I made five.
We’ll let those sit for a little while so they can dry out just a teensy bit. Let’s move on to the stuffing. I wanted something a little creamy with some rich tomato flavor, so threw some goat cheese in the food processor with some oil cured sun dried tomatoes..
Whip it up until nice and fluffy..
And there you have it! I like to reserve about a third of the sun dried tomatoes and add them at the last few pulses so you can see the beautiful tomato pieces in there.
For one of the batches of sandwiches, I also added some Pesto to some full-fat ricotta cheese (photo later). But — not as good as I’d hoped, and the green color didn’t hold. The second sandwich batch just got a nice layer of Pesto without the Ricotta, and that worked out much better. Your call. Onward…I made some Olive Tapanade which just means I put both pitted Green Olives and Kalamata Olives in the food processor with some Capers and Olive Oil and pulsed until roughly chopped. Simple as can be.
And since I was in an Artichoke Heart kind of mood, opened a jar of Marinated Artichoke Hearts and pulsed them until finely chopped as well.
For color and texture and because I like them, added some Fire Roasted Red Peppers.
And for cheeses, I picked some sliced Fresh Mozzarella and some sliced Provolone.
All of our players are gathered, so let’s put this guy together. First down is the Sun Dried Tomato/Goat Cheese spread. Remember to get into those corners!
Some Provolone would be nice right about now.
You get the idea. Layer what you think looks good together, keeping in mind that if you have layers that are more moist than others, it’s good to separate them with something more solid to avoid a potential leaky mess.
Roasted Red Peppers are next down.
And the not too pretty Ricotta/Pesto combination I admitted to earlier. Just wanted to show you though, so you could see how to put his hat on.
Once he’s full, but his top on and wrap as tight as you can in plastic wrap.
At this point, you are going to want to weight this guy down and refrigerate at least two hours, up to overnight. Since I was making five of these, they went on cookie sheets and then were topped with a baking stone. You could also put one in a baking dish, put another dish on top and then put a couple of heavy cans of tomato sauce, soup cans, or some such thing on top. If you don’t weigh them down, you run the risk of them falling apart when you try to cut into them and that is just plain embarrassing after all of your hard work.
Tick tock. Two hours have gone by and you have waited long enough. What do you say we cut into this big old sandwich? Oh yeah. This is sandwich #1 with the Ricotta/Pesto top layer.
And here we have Sandwich #2 with the Pesto layer on top. I loved them both, but you get a big old pop of fresh basil with the Pesto layer which I prefer. Your call.
All that being said, you don’t have to use any of the fillings I did. This is YOUR sandwich, and these are just ideas. Go for it. I’d love to hear what you came up with. Happy picnicking! xoxoxo
- PAN BAGNAT
- 1 large Boule (round, unsliced loaf of bread)
- 1 cup softened Cream Cheese or Goat Cheese blended in food processor with about ½ cup oil cured sun dried tomatoes
- 1 jar roasted red peppers
- 8 ounces Provolone
- 1 cup Herb Pesto (recipe below)
- 1 cup Ricotta Cheese
- 8 ounces fresh Mozzarella
- 2 cups Marinated Artichoke Hearts
- 1 cup green, black, or a combination of pitted olives, 2 tablespoons capers, and about 2 tablespoons olive oil, chopped in food processor until they become a paste, or tapenade
- HERB GARDEN PESTO
- • 1 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil plus extra for drizzling
- • I clove garlic, minced
- • I cup fresh Basil leaves & stems
- • 1 cup fresh Italian Parsley, roughly chopped
- • ½ cup fresh Chives, roughly chopped
- • ½ cup fresh Oregano leaves and stems, roughly chopped
- • ¼ cup slivered Almonds or Walnut pieces
- • 4 teaspoons lemon juice
- • Salt and Pepper to taste
- Cut the top off of the round of bread – about two inches down from the top. Scoop out the insides of the loaf of bread, leaving about a ½ inch shell. Set aside insides of bread for another use.
- Combine Ricotta Cheese with ¼ cup of Herb Pesto
- To Assemble:
- Spread softened Cream Cheese or Goat Cheese/Sun Dried Tomatoes on bottom of loaf
- Add one layer of Roasted Red Pepper
- Add one layer of Provolone Cheese
- Add one layer of Ricotta/Herb Pesto (or plain pesto)
- Add one layer of Fresh Mozzarella Cheese
- Add one layer marinated Artichoke Hearts
- Add one layer of Olive Tapenade
- Wrap the loaf tightly in plastic wrap, place in a baking dish to catch any juices, and weight down the top with something heavy, like a cast iron skillet. Let sit for at least two hours, or overnight.
- When ready to serve, just unwrap, place on a cutting board, and slice. You can slice into wedges, or lengthwise then crosswise.