Alice Waters’ Pan Bagna Sandwich

Lori Writer / Heavy Table
Lori Writer / Heavy Table

Alice Waters, founder and executive chef at Chez Panisse Restaurant in Berkeley, CA, may not be able to relate to the long, patient wait we Midwesterners endure for our short, but glorious, tomato season, but she does know what to do with juicy tomatoes at their peak.

In her cookbook, Chez Panisse Vegetables, Waters writes: “Summer on the French Riviera wouldn’t be complete without this popular sandwich…a simple vegetable salad served on a bun.”

The bun, according to Waters, is key. “Ideally it is made of white bread, the size of an open hand, and it must have a fairly dense crumb and a soft but tenacious crust (especially for the bottom half, which will absorb all the juices).” A baguette, an Italian loaf, or a non-crumbly focaccia would all be good choices.

Instead of providing exact quantities for this recipe, Waters would like you to use your imagination and intuition. She writes: “Exact quantities should never matter as much to a cook of vegetables (or of anything else) as her confidence in her own senses.”

Pan Bagna

Serves 1

Baguette, Italian loaf, or focaccia
Extra virgin olive oil, to taste (be generous)
Tomatoes, sliced
Salt, to taste
Cucumbers, sliced
Bell pepper, sliced into strips
More salt, to taste
Hard boiled egg, sliced
Pepper, freshly ground, to taste
2 – 3 anchovy fillets
A few niçoise olives, pitted

  1. Slice the bun in half horizontally.
  2. Drizzle olive oil on inside portion of bottom half of bun.
  3. Layer bottom bun with tomatoes, then salt.
  4. Layer cucumbers, bell pepper strips. Salt.
  5. Layer eggs. Pepper.
  6. Layer anchovy fillets and olives.
  7. Close with top half of bun.
  8. Let the sandwich rest for a half hour.

Variations: grill the bun, rub it with garlic, or add a layer of arugula.

Adapted from Chez Panisse Vegetables.

Lori Writer / Heavy Table
Lori Writer / Heavy Table


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