“This classic Nicoise sandwich is the essence of summer,” says Sasha Muniak, founder of Mangia. Pan bagna means “bathed bread” and refers to the oil that is generously spooned on thick slices of country bread, which, in turn, are topped with juicy tomato, red onion, and anchovy fillets. These three ingredients comprise the main components of a pan bagna, but hard-boiled eggs, olives, and green peppers can also be added. If you love sandwiches in which the bread becomes soppy and a little soft, add this to your list of favorites.
This sandwich is simplicity itself to make, perfect for a quick snack for last-minute guests and can be fully prepared in advance. Serve with plenty of napkins as these are delicious but messy.
3 ripe beefsteak tomatoes, 8 ounces each
1 large red onion
2 small garlic cloves
2 medium green peppers, 8 ounces each (optional)
¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil
6 unseeded kaiser rolls or 12 slices dense country bread, cut ½ inch thick
12 anchovy fillets packed in oil
3 tablespoons coarsely chopped basil leaves
Freshly ground black pepper
3 large hard-boiled eggs, cooled, peeled, and quartered (optional)
12 pitted kalamata olives (optional)
- Wash and dry the tomatoes, then slice ¼ inch thick. Peel and slice the red onion into ⅛ -inch-thick slices and separate the rings.
- Peel, trim, and mince the garlic. If using, cut off the tops of the green peppers, remove the seeds and ribs, and slice into ¼ -inch-thick rings.
- In a bowl, stir together the oil and garlic. Slice the rolls in half horizontally.
- Assemble the sandwiches: Generally, spoon some of the garlic oil into both the bottoms and tops of all the rolls. Lay 2 slices of tomato on each bottom half. Top with 2 anchovy fillets, then 3 onion rings. Sprinkle with some of the onion rings. Sprinkle with some of the chopped basil and salt and pepper. If using eggs, place 2 quarters on each sandwich and top with 2 pitted olives and slices of green pepper, if desired. Cover each sandwich with its remaining top half. Press down on the sandwiches to release the juices, cut in half, and serve.
Prepping in advance: The sandwiches can be fully assembled up to 1 hour in advance of serving. Hold at room temperature.