Riviera Pan Bagnat by Mary Leonardi-Cattolica Sansen

Riviera Pan Bagnat

Pan bagnat means wet bread in French and is a a fairly common sandwich found along the French and Italian riviera. Some people credit this as an Italian dish, but it actually comes from Nice, about 100 miles from here. This is an authentic version with a few Genovese additions. Or at least this Genovese’s additions;-) At one time Nice was part of the Republic of Genova, and later part of Italy. It’s where Garibaldi was born. OK, history lesson over, here’s the recipe;-)

Makes 4 4″x4″ sandwiches

1 1/4 sheet of fresh focaccia sliced in long quarters
1 clove garlic, peeled and halved

Filling – Salade Nicoise (Note: authentic salade nicoise never has cooked vegetables in it. No potatoes, no green beans, no fresh tuna)

1/2 cup pitted riviera olives, here I used nicoise and taggiasche, always black.
3-4 small tomatoes, cubed, salted and drained
2 marinated artichokes, cubed
1 cucumber, peeled cored and cubed
2 hard boiled eggs, quartered
2 Tbsp. salted capers, preferably Pantelleria, soaked, rinsed and drained
4 salted anchovies, cleaned, rinsed and quartered
OR (never both, what a sacrilege!)
1/2 cup canned or jarred tuna
1/4 cup small leaf basil, preferably from Pra.
1/2 cup fresh young fava beans, removed from the pods and peeled…or squeezed, as you prefer
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix ingredients together and liberally coat with a nicoise or taggiasche olive oil, or with 1/3 of the vinaigrette


1/4 cup red wine vinegar
3/4 cup riviera olive oil
1/2 tsp dijon mustard
salt and pepper

Whisk vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper together. Slowly add the oil and whisk until emulsified. There will be plenty left over for another salad.


Split the focaccia in half down the middle. This is hard to do with the real thing, so I typically slice off the bottom crust and use two pieces together. Rub liberally with garlic. If you’ve only used olive oil on your salad nicoise (which is the way salade nicoise is eaten), splash about 2 tsps of red wine vinegar on the focaccia. Otherwise, splash some of the vinaigrette on the bread.

Add the filling, wrap tightly in paper, and allow to sit for about an hour so the bread soaks up all the juices. When ready to eat, cover yourself in plastic, unwrap the top half and enjoy. Failure to heed my final instructions will result in you wearing salade nicoise for the rest of the day.

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