Pane Bagnato for a Picnic

I have always loved the romantic notion of a picnic in the park. When I lived in San Francisco, my favorite place to gather up some picnic provisions from nearby cafes and enjoy an alfresco feast was South Park. It is a quaint little island of green, surrounded by a circle of equally-charming local businesses.

Summertime is the perfect occasion to dust off that picnic basket buried in the back of the closet, and imagine the playfulness of creating a simple feast for an impromptu outdoor concert on the lawn, an afternoon at the beach, or a getaway day trip to the mountains. When you're packing for a picnic, you want something that is easy to prepare, easy to eat, and scrumptious even after hours of being patiently packed away.

One of my favorite picnic recipes is a simple panini call pane bagnato. "Bathed bread" could that be anything but delicious?

Pane bagnato is my Italian-inspired version of the classic savory sandwich from the south of France called pan bagnat. I first discovered pan bagnat when I worked at Cafe Fanny, Alice Water's adorably charming lunchtime cafe in Berkeley, California. Traditionally, pan bagnat is made with tuna fish. It's almost like a nicoise salad in a sandwich. Alice's recipe was a refreshingly vegetarian version made with a variety of seasonal ingredients. You can interchange ingredients based on your likes and the season, but here I've listed a few favorites that are available all year round. When packing up your picnic, wrap the pane bagnato in thick parchment paper for safekeeping. And don't forget a bottle of chilled rosé wine!

This is a vegetarian version, but you can also add any combination of various salumi such as finocchiona salami, proscuitto or bresaola.

1 large loaf of rosemary foccacia bread
1/3 cup Olive Pesto
1/3 cup mayonnaise + 2 tablespoons Basil Pesto, blended well
1 cup Sweet Balsamic Roasted Pepper *
1 bunch radishes, washed and thinly sliced
1 bulb fresh fennel, fronds and core removed; sliced thinly
6 hard-boiled organic eggs {no grey rings, please}
1 large handful arugula greens

Cut focaccia in half crosswise, so you have a top and a bottom piece. Spread the inside of the bottom part of the bread with olive pesto. Spread the inside of the top part with the basil mayonnaise.

Remove peppers from the jar and remove the stems. Slit the peppers on one side so they open up and can lay flat.

Place the radishes and fennel in two separate bowls and divide the marinade from the peppers. Toss the vegetables until well-coated. Season with salt.

Cut eggs into 1/4-inch slices.

To assemble the sandwich, start by placing the bottom half of the bread {spread side up} on a parchment or plastic-lined half sheet pan. Layer eggs evenly on the bread until completely covered. Continue the same layering process with the radishes, fennel and roasted peppers.

Top with the arugula. Cover with the top piece of bread. Put a piece of parchment or plastic over the top of the bread and cover with another sheet pan. Place a few bricks or a heavy-bottomed pan on the sheet pan and let sit for about 30 minute, until it is compressed. With a serrated knife, cut into 6-8 sandwiches. Wrap in parchment and enjoy!

* Bella's Roasted Sweet Balsamic Peppers are not currently on the website. Call the store to order 800.580.5674

Buon appetito!
copyright 2009 Alisa Barry


SteamyKitchen said...

Oh great picnics!

Kathy said...

Great blog post!!! Inspiring and loved the photo of the picnic basket.....I'm inspired to blog, photograph, and cook...a perfect trifecta!!!!

Lylah Ledner said...

I've just been introduced to your wonderful blog by a dear glad she did...

la maison et le jardin

Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction said...

What a lovely sandwich... That would make a lovely picnic! Thanks so much for submitting it to this month's Kitchen Bootcamp roundup!

Alisa Barry said...

Thanks so much everyone for the delicious feedback! Picnic time is quickly diminishing as fall arrives. A last dash to the park with picnic basket in hand, a cozy blanket, a chilled bottle of wine and the sweet one you love.