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Vegetarian Pan Bagnat with Cilantro Pesto

Summers in Park City you can find live music most every night of the week almost all of them outdoors!  Locals pack their picnics, from elaborate assemblies to something they picked up at the Market. Me, I love to make this very special sandwich, this pan bagnat (pan ban-YAH) with cilantro pesto!

Pan bagnat refers to a sturdy, packable sandwich popular in Southern France. To make a pan bagnat sandwich, use a long baguette with the center hollowed out. Have fun putting together this vegetarian version!


Pan bagnat filling options vary and usually include sliced meats, like salami. For this vegetarian version, I use sliced baked tofu, tomato, salad greens, sliced cheese, olives, roasted red pepper, and thinly sliced cucumber or small zucchini.

Spread your hollowed out baguette with this cilantro pepita pesto before piling in the other ingredients. Basil pesto, if that’s what you have, is a fine substitute.

Pesto in hollowed baguette for Pan Bagnat with Cilantro Pesto

Make it vegan–skip the cheese.

Make it a fabulous week–get in the kitchen and cook something delicious!

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Pan Bagnat with Cilantro Pesto
Prep Time
30 mins
Total Time
30 mins

Mound the ingredients in hollowed-out bread, aiming for lots of flavor and variety. Cilantro Pepita Pesto makes this packable picnic sandwich distinctive! Plan on 3 or 4 inches per person.

Course: lunch, dinner, appetizer
Cuisine: Vegetarian, French
Keyword: pan bagnat, cilantro pesto, sandwich
Servings: 4 servings
For the sandwich:
  • 1 fresh baguette (allow 3 or 4 inches per person)
  • Cilantro Pepita Pesto or fresh basil pesto, as needed
  • 3 ounces Sliced baked tofu, as desired
  • 3 Tomato slices, as desired
  • 1 cup Lettuce greens or leaves, as desired
  • 2 or 3 ounces Sliced cheese, , fresh or aged, one or several types, your choice
  • 8 to 12 Pitted olives , sliced
  • 1 Roasted red pepper, as desired
  • 1 cup Thinly sliced cucumber or small zucchini, as desired
For the pesto:
  • 1 clove garlic sliced
  • 1 cup stemmed fresh cilantro (see note)
  • 1/4 cup lightly toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh-squeezed lime juice
  • red wine vinegar, as needed
To make the pesto:
  1. With the motor of the food processor running, mince the garlic by dropping it through the feed tube. Process until it is very fine and has flown onto the processor bowl. Add the cilantro, pepitas and salt. Process for about 10 seconds, stopping to move things around if they get hung up. With the machine running, pour oil through the feed tube in a thin stream, processing until everything is well blended. Pour in the lime juice. 

To assemble the pan bagnat:
  1. Slice the baguette crosswise a third of the way down from the top. With your fingers, make it hollow by tearing out the softer bready insides.
  2. Spread both top and bottom hollows very generously with pesto.
  3. Slice the baguette crosswise a third of the way down from the top. With your fingers, make it hollow by tearing out the softer bready insides. Spread both top and bottom hollows very generously with pesto. In the bottom, mound in the options, aiming for lots of flavor and variety. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper and a bit of red wine vinegar. 

  4. Place the other half of the baguette on top—it should fit over your layers without too much of a gap. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and then fasten with rubber bands, at intervals, to press the sandwich together. Pack in your picnic basket, along with a small cutting surface and a good serrated knife.
  5. To serve, slice the Pan Bagnat right through the plastic. Peel away the plastic as you eat the sandwich.
Recipe Notes
  • Pepita is the Spanish word for pumpkin seeds. 
  • If you don’t have enough cilantro, supplement with parsley.

1 comment

  • […] 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

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