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Niçoise salad as a pressed tuna sandwich (Pan Bagnat)

Niçoise salad as a pressed tuna sandwich (Pan Bagnat)

Nicoise salad is an awesome low carb dinner or lunch on its own. Add a baguette and press it with weights overnight and it is perfect Summer lunch. A French classic, Nicoise salad is full of flavor and nutrition, and using these ingredients to make a “Pressed Nicoise on Baguette” adds a bit more substance with a rustic bread.

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Pressed Tuna Sandwish (Pan Bagnat)
Nicoise Ingredients & Substitutions
Popular Nicoise Dressings

Low carb French nicoise salad
Low carb French nicoise salad

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Using a Molcajete

Nicoise Salad as a Pressed Sandwich (Pan Bagnat)

A popular picnic on the Mediterranean coast will often include a pressed nicoise sandwich, also known as a “pan bagnat”. Basically a pan bagnat is a nicoise tuna salad pressed between two slices of a baguette spread with garlic and oil.

It is usually left in the fridge long enough for the olive oil, lemon juice and garlic to soak into the bread and bring all the flavors together.

This classic French picnic sandwich is referred to as pan bagna, or pain bagnat—all pronounced “pahn bahn-yah”, and it literally means “bathed bread”. Crusty bread ensures that the insides are soft but outside of the bread stays firm.

Tuna nicoise sandwich on  a baguette cut in half and laid out on parchment paper.

Typical ingredients of a nicoise salad include canned tuna, green beans, black olives, red onions, fresh herbs, tomatoes, hard boiled eggs and a vinaigrette. If you are going to make the pressed nicoise sandwich, you will need a rustic bread with a hard crust on the outside, so that the sandwich does not fall apart.

Ingredients and Substitutions

Mostly you want to add fresh ingredients, and that might vary depending on the geographic region and the time of year. Here are a few ingredients that work well with this type of salad (or sandwich filling), either as a substitute for the basic ingredients listed above or as an addition.

  • artichoke hearts
  • red bell peppers
  • anchovies
  • sliced fennel
  • radishes
  • cucumbers
  • capers
Tuna Niçoise salad in a large wooden bowl.
Nicoise salad in a bowl

If you prefer a Mexican bent to your tuna salad instead of classic French, try this Mexican Ensalada de Atun.

Mexican tuna chopped salad in a bowl with saltine crackers on the side.
Mexican Tuna Salad

Best Dressing for Nicoise Salads

I like the complexity of an anchovy salad dressing, and have provided a recipe for my favorite anchovy dressing in the “notes” section of the recipe card below.

If you prefer something quick, simple and easy, simply add 3 Tablespoons of lemon juice to 6 Tablespoons good olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Another alternative is to make a dressing using 3 tablespoons of a shrub syrup and 6 Tablespoons of a good olive oil. I have used the Smoked Tomato Shrub Syrup for this, as well as a Rhubarb shrub syrup. Both were excellent and there are many other flavors that would work well as a salad dressing.

Recipe for Pressed Nicoise Sandwich (Pan Bagnat)

Nicoise Pressed Sandwich

Deconstructed tuna Niçoise salad laid out on a white plate.
How to make a low carb Nicoise salad into a pressed sandwich. Perfect for Summer picnics or outdoor lunches!
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 0 minutes
Servings 2
Calories 1101



Ingredients for the Salad

  • ½ baguette (about 5 “) A large round loaf that is about eight inches in diameter would also work, just needs a hard crust on outside
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 4 to 6 basil leaves
  • 6 oz tuna canned in oil, not water
  • ¾ cup Kalamata olives Or other black olives, sliced
  • ½ pint Cherry tomatoes Sliced in half
  • ½ red onion Sliced or chopped
  • ¼ cup Italian flat leaf parsley finely chopped
  • ½ cup blanched French green beans sliced into thirds (optional)
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil plus more for drizzling
  • 1 pinch sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Ingredients for the Anchovy Dressing

  • 1 fillet anchovy drained
  • tsp sea salt
  • tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp garlic minced
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tsp lemon juice fresh squeezed
  • ½ tsp Dijon mustard
  • 6 tbsp olive oil
  • 1.5 tbsp shallots minced
  • 2 tsp capers drained and chopped
  • ½ tsp Worcestershire sauce


For the bread

  • Slice the loaf of bread in half lengthwise. Remove some of the inside of the bottom half to create a trough into which the filling will go. Brush both halves with a little olive oil and rub each side with smashed garlic and some salt and pepper.
    Line the bottom half (the half with the trough) with basil leaves.
    1/2 baguette (about 5 “), 1 clove garlic

For the filling

  • Combine the salad ingredients (through the green beans) in a large bowl.
    4 to 6 basil leaves, 6 oz tuna, 3/4 cup Kalamata olives, 1/2 pint Cherry tomatoes, 1/2 red onion, 1/4 cup Italian flat leaf parsley, 1/2 cup blanched French green beans
  • Prepare the anchovy dressing, if using. Alternatively, for a simple dressing: combine 3 Tablespoons lemon juice with 6 Tablespoons olive oil and add a little salt and pepper.
    3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, 1 pinch sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Pour 1/2 cup of whichever dressing you choose into the tuna mixture and stir to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

For the anchovy dressing

  • Using the back of a spoon or fork make a paste by mashing the anchovy, salt, pepper and garlic together until thoroughly mixed and mashed together.
    1 fillet anchovy, 1/8 tsp sea salt, 1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper, 1/2 tsp garlic
  • Using a wire whisk, whisk in the egg until well blended with the paste. Whisk in lemon juice and mustard.
    1 large egg, 2 tsp lemon juice, 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • Whisk in the oil, one tablespoon at a time, whisking vigorously until you have a thick emulsion.
    6 tbsp olive oil
  • Whisk in the shallots, capers and Worcestershire sauce until blended. Taste, and adjust the salt and pepper if needed to your own taste.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
    1.5 tbsp shallots, 2 tsp capers, 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

To assemble the sandwiches

  • Spoon tuna mixture into the trough of the baguette over the basil leaves. Wrap sandwich well in plastic.
    Place a heavy weight on top of the sandwich (a cast iron pan works well, or a pan weighted down with heavy canned goods).
    Refrigerate with the weight on top overnight.


Calories: 1101kcalCarbohydrates: 44gProtein: 107gFat: 57gSaturated Fat: 8gPolyunsaturated Fat: 7gMonounsaturated Fat: 37gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 184mgSodium: 2448mgPotassium: 1391mgFiber: 6gSugar: 6gVitamin A: 1302IUVitamin C: 42mgCalcium: 197mgIron: 12mg
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There is a wonderful Italian holiday that takes place in mid-August called Ferragosto (where they take a relaxing break from the August heat).  Since the Nicoise salad heralds summer picnics, I thought I’d include a great summertime cocktail recipe.  Click here for the watermelon mojito Ferragosto recipe and post.  Ciao!

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