Pan Bagnat with Grilled Peppers and Basil Vinaigrette

Ingredients

For the peppers

  • 2 s  large red bell peppers, quartered, stemmed, and seeded
  • 1 Teaspoon  olive oil

For the vinaigrette

  • 12 s  large basil leaves
  • 2 Tablespoons  aged balsamic or red-wine vinegar
  • 6 Tablespoons  extra-virgin olive oil
  •   clove garlic, peeled
  • 1/4 Teaspoon  sea salt
  •    Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For the sandwich

  • 1/3 Cup  pitted Niçoise or Kalamata olives, chopped coarsely
  • 1 Tablespoon  capers, drained and chopped finely
  • 4 s  baguette or ciabatta rolls, halved
  • 4 s  scallions, white and pale green parts only, cut into 1/8-inch-thick slices
  • 4 s  hard-boiled eggs, shelled and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
  • 2 s  medium-sized ripe tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
  • 1/2   seedless cucumber, cut into 1/8-inch-thick slices
  •    Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

This classic Provençal sandwich, which means "soaked bread" in the ancient Nice dialect, is nothing more than a Salade Niçoise served between two pieces of bread. In the old days, it was considered to be a humble food, made with ingredients that every household would have on hand.

But today pan bagnat is fashionable fare. And for good reason: It makes an extraordinarily delicious and satisfying meal.

In my version, the grilled peppers add a bit of depth to this simple sandwich, and the basil vinaigrette soaks the whole thing with its ambrosial fragrance — making it the quintessential summer sandwich!

Directions

For the peppers

Preheat the grill on medium-high heat.

Brush the peppers with the olive oil and set aside on a tray. When the grill is ready, place peppers directly on the grill, cut side up, and grill until charred, about 4-5 minutes.

Turn the peppers over and grill until well charred, about 3-4 minutes. Transfer to a tray and set aside. (Alternatively, you can roast the peppers under the broiler, following the same directions as for grilling them.)

For the vinaigrette

Place all of the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and process until the basil is very finely chopped and the vinaigrette is smooth. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

For the sandwich

In a small bowl, mix the olives and capers. Set aside.

Lightly toast the cut side of the rolls on the grill or under a broiler. Drizzle both sides of the rolls with two-thirds of the vinaigrette to soak the bread. Top the bottom half of each roll with the grilled peppers, olive-caper mixture, scallions, and the egg slices.

Drizzle with the remaining vinaigrette. Top with the tomatoes and cucumber slices. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Finish with the top side of the rolls, press slightly with your hand, and cut the sandwiches in half. Serve with a leafy green salad with mustard vinaigrette.

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