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Vegetarian Pan Bagnat with Pesto

A crusty baguette, the insides jam-packed with garlicky green pesto, savory baked tofu, crisp cucumbers, roasted red pepper, juicy tomatoes and more, a portable feast that’s easy and fun to make–may I present this vegetarian pan bagnat!

Pan bagnat slices with wine bottle in background

You ask, “What is pan bagnat?”

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  • Pan bagnat literally means “bathed bread.”
  • It’s a sandwich with all sorts of mouthwatering fillings generously sprinkled with red wine vinaigrette. The loaf is compression-wrapped so moisture from all the inside goodies soaks into the bread!
  • It’s pronounced pan-ban-YAH.
  • Popular in southern France, both in cafés and for picnics, pan bagnat is like an antipasto platter turned into a crusty on the outside, soft on the inside sandwich.
  • Classically, pan bagnat would be filled with tuna and sliced hard-boiled eggs, and maybe anchovies or sliced meat. But this blog is all about awesome vegetarian recipes–the flavors, textures and colors in our pan bagnat are strictly meatless!
building the layers in pan bagnat with pesto

How to make vegetarian pan bagnat with pesto:

  • Cut a good sturdy crusty baguette in half, lengthwise.  
  • Tear out some of the soft center from each half roll.
  • Slather the hollow on both sides with your favorite pesto.
  • Mound in seasoned tofu, a favorite cheese, brined olives, cucumber, tomatoes, red pepper and lettuce.
  • Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground black pepper and douse it all with red wine vinegar.
  • Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and let sit for a couple hours or overnight.
  • Cut into smaller sandwiches and enjoy!
building the pan bagnat with cucumbers and lettuce with red wine vinegar bottle

What can you put in your vegetarian pan bagnat? Here are some more ideas:

  • Thinly sliced red onion
  • Capers
  • Sliced radishes
  • Sliced zucchini instead of cucumber
  • Instead of pesto and red wine vinegar, moisten with a vinaigrette dressing.
  • Arugula or mixed greens
  • Basil leaves
  • Hard-cooked eggs
  • Green pepper strips
  • Mixed baby lettuce
  • Seasoned mashed chickpeas
vegetarian pan bagnat wrapped in plastic with rubber bands

Vegetarian pan bagnat recipe notes:

  • *** Make it vegan: Skip the cheese or use a plant-based cheese.
  • Make breadcrumbs from the soft insides, the part you took out of the center of the baguette. Let the soft dough dry out and then whir in the blender or food processor.
  • Grill or bake your own marinated tofu (it’s easy), or purchase a baked tofu, like this one.
  • You want the tomato juices and red wine vinegar to do their “bathed bread” thing. A little time makes a better pan bagnat. *** If you only have 15 minutes, press the wrapped sandwich with something flat and heavy, like a cutting board with a skillet on top.

Do it! Transform a simple baguette into a sturdy, packable sandwich, a pan bagnat. An adventurous eater would be delighted to find this in their lunchbox. Make to share at a picnic and you’ll be the star of the party!

3 inch slices of filled pan bagnat with pesto

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If you make this recipe and love it, please consider leaving a blog post comment. Your comments help other readers learn more about the recipe. If you’d also give the recipe a ✮✮✮✮✮ rating, I’d be delighted!


Nutrition information is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. In this recipe, I didn’t include the nutrition for the pesto or the tofu so you will need to add those in. Also, the calculation will vary based on the quantity consumed, brands used and any substitutions.

With new information and photos, this is an updated recipe of one I posted for my CSA way back in 2009! Time for a newer one, don’t you agree?

Filed under: Appetizers, Main Course, Snacks, Vegan

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3 comments

  • […] For us the basil is easy because we squirrel it away made into pesto. I keep walnuts and fresh Romano cheese on hand this time of year in hopes that John will bless us with his beautiful basil. If I feel like I am swimming in cilantro, I turn it into Latino pesto with toasted pumpkin seeds. […] Reply · 20 July, 2010

  • That sounds amazing! Reply · 13 August, 2021

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