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white platter holding a Pan Bagnat - crusty french baguette fiiled with Tuna Nicoise

Easy French Pan Bagnat

Traditional flavors of Provence – tuna, olives, peppers, tomatoes, capers, olive oil – are pressed into a scrumptious crusty baguette in these Pan Bagnat (aka Tuna Nicoise Sandwiches). Quick and easy to prepare, they can be made ahead of time with no mayo, making them perfect for picnics and potlucks!

  • Prep Time: 25 mins
  • Cook Time: 10 mins (sitting time)
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: 2 to 3 servings 1x


  • 3 tablespoons lemon-fused (or infused) extra virgin olive oil – see Note
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 3/4 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 3/4 teaspoon chopped fresh tarragon
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • 1 (10 to 12 inch) French baguette
  • 1 (5 ounce) can albacore tuna, drained – see Note
  • 1 medium (4 to 5 ounce) tomato, cored, seeded and chopped
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
  • 1 large green onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped and pitted Niçoise or Kalamata olives
  • 2 tablespoons capers, drained
  • Fresh ground pepper, to taste


  1. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, lemon zest and tarragon. Season to taste with kosher salt. Cover and let sit at room temperature.
  2. Cut bread in half lengthwise. Scoop out bread from inside both halves, leaving 1/2-inch thick shells. In a food processor, process the bread until the consistency of panko breadcrumbs.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, stir together breadcrumbs, tuna, tomato, bell pepper, green onion, olives and capers and mix well. Toss with dressing. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  4. Spoon tuna mixture into the bottom bread shell and cover with the top. Wrap in plastic wrap, then in foil and top with something heavy to weigh it down (like a cast iron skillet, or a cutting board and a few heavy cookbooks). Let sit for at least 10 minutes.
  5. Remove weight, foil and plastic wrap. Cut crosswise into 2 to 4 pieces to serve.


Make ahead: Pan Bagnat can be assembled up to 24 hours in advance, covered and refrigerated. No need to weigh down if making the day before.

Note on olive oil: If you can’t find lemon-fused or infused olive oil, use regular EVOO and add more lemon zest to taste.

Note on canned tuna: I absolutely love Wild Planet Albacore Wild Tuna packed without oil. It’s moist but not oily and has great tuna flavor, without being too fishy tasting. Plus, Wild Planet tuna are line caught, which is better for the environment and means the fish are smaller with less mercury. If you can’t find Wild Planet tuna, I would recommend using a good quality wild tuna packed in oil, not water.

  • Author: (By Lee Clayton Roper)
  • Category: sandwiches, make ahead, picnics, potlucks

Keywords: tuna, sandwich, make ahead