Bastille Day, Picnics and Fireworks:
Vegetarian Stuffed Picnic Sandwich Recipe
Bastille Day is the name given in English-speaking countries to the French National Day, which is celebrated on 14 July each year. In France, it is formally called La Fête Nationale (French pronunciation: [la.fɛːt.na.sjɔˈnal] ; The National Celebration) and commonly Le quatorze juillet (French pronunciation: [lə.ka.tɔʁz.ʒɥiˈjɛ] ; the fourteenth of July). While the date is the same as that of the storming of the Bastille, July 14 was instead chosen to commemorate the 1790 Fête de la Fédération. It is a symbol of the uprising of the modern nation and of the reconciliation of all the French inside the constitutional monarchy which preceded the First Republic during the French Revolution. Celebrations are held all over France. The oldest and largest regular military parade in Europe is held on the morning of 14 July, on the Champs-Élysées avenue in Paris in front of the President of the Republic, French officials and foreign guests. (Wikipedia)
This year’s annual Bastille Day celebrations will be tinged with sadness, as just a few days ago there was a horrific crash just South of Paris, when a SNCF train derailed; the scenes from Bretigny-sur-Orge station were very distressing, and my heart goes out to the family and friends of those who were killed or injured. It was even more relevant to me, as just two days before the crash I had made my way back to France from the UK via the Eurostar and TGV, as I always do, and although the crash shocked me, I will still choose to travel by train as it’s far more comfortable than flying and still has an excellent safety record. So, although I am celebrating France’s national day, La Fête Nationale, with my French (and British) friends and neighbours, we will all be thinking about the families of the train crash victims.
So, what is happening today? Well, we have been invited to a special Bastille Day Birthday Party for a close friend, and then after that, we are heading for the beach to watch the fireworks with more friends, and picnic of course! Although the recipe for my classic Pan Bagnat is VERY popular, I have decided to make a simpler, vegetarian version for today’s picnic, a Stuffed Picnic Sandwich made with free-range eggs, cornichons (very French), red onions (French again of course), fresh vine tomatoes from a local producer, lettuce from our garden and fresh home-grown herbs, all STUFFED into a crusty baguette, and served with olives, extra salad veggies.
The setting for the picnic would have been at my old French metal table in the back garden; however, tonight’s picnic will be on the beach at St Georges de Didonne, where we will sit with friends, break bread and drink wine and view the spectacular firework display over the Gironde Estuary. I remember another wonderful evening there on the 14th July, when my mum and dad were visiting, and after a long walk we manage to secure a park bench for the whole of the evening, with a perfect view over the estuary; there were Chinese lanterns, excited school children (from the UK as well as France), convivial chatter and the evening was just magical. Even the long walk back the car after the fireworks had ended didn’t spoil the evening!
As I have to rush off soon, I will leave with you my Vegetarian Stuffed Picnic Sandwich Recipe, as it’s more of an idea and a simple “assembly job”, I have not formatted it into a printable recipe card, although, I may do that later when I have time. It’s vegetarian, which would sit nicely alongside my classic Pan Bagnat recipe, which, I have shared below too, and the egg mayonnaise salad mixture is from a previous recipe, Egg and Two Cress Sandwich Filling, although I left the cress out this time as I am in France and I couldn’t find any! Have a wonderful day, wherever you are, and think of me as I am sipping wine on the water’s edge in SW France, eating fabulous picnic food and “ooooing and ahhing” as the fireworks light up the night sky! Bye for now, Karen
Vegetarian Stuffed Picnic Sandwich Recipe
Ingredients for four people:
1 large baguette or pain
a little olive oil
1/2 red onion, peeled and thinly slices into rings
4 large tomatoes, thinly sliced
4 to 8 cornichons, depending on size, thinly sliced
fresh herbs such as basil to garnish
salt and pepper to taste
Cut the baguette into four pieces and then cut each piece in half. Scoop out some of the crumb in the the middle, saving it for breadcrumbs, and drizzle a little olive oil over both halves.
Lay the lettuce leaves on one half than then add the egg mayonnaise mixture, the red onion slices, the tomato slices, the cornichon slices before scattering on a few fresh herb leaves.
Season to taste with salt and black pepper, and place the lid on top of the filled bottom half.
Wrap in greaseproof paper or cling-film and sit the sandwiches under a heavy book or weights, if you have time.
Serve the sandwiches with olives, and extra salad vegetables.
Can be made the night before and kept under weights in the fridge.
Pan Bagnat – French Picnic Sandwich Recipe:
Pan Bagnat ~ French Picnic Sandwich
|Prep time||24 hours|
|Meal type||Bread, Lunch, Main Dish, Salad, Side Dish, Snack|
|Misc||Child Friendly, Gourmet, Pre-preparable, Serve Cold|
|Occasion||Barbecue, Birthday Party, Casual Party, Easter|
|Karen S Burns-Booth|
A wonderful sumptuous French Picnic Sandwich! Slice the sandwich before you go on your picnic if you wish, it is easier, or just take a wooden board and knife for slicing on location. You can also cut this into wedges too. This makes a stunning centre piece summer luncheon dish, all you need is sunshine and wine, oh yes, and good company!
- 1 large Boule ~ a round loaf of bread, as seen in photos
- 3 tablespoons Olive Oil
- 6 Roasted Red Peppers from a jar
- 1/2 Red Onion, peeled and sliced thinly
- Fresh basil leaves
- Green Olives, about 2 dozen
- 2 x (125g) balls of Mozzarella Cheese, sliced
- 3 fresh tomatoes, thinly sliced
- 2 slices of cooked Ham, (I prefer air dried ham, but it makes the loaf difficult to cut)
- Salt and pepper
You can also wrap this loaf in greaseproof paper and then tie it up with string for a very arty culinary way of presentation!
First ~ cut the top of the bread, as seen in the photos, about 2″, and scoop all of the inside of the bread loaf ~ leaving a 1/2″ shell; crumble the bread between your fingers or in a food processorand freeze as breadcrumbs for cooking later.
Next, brush the inside of the bread shell and underneath the lid with the olive oil.
Then the fun begins, you start to layer your sandwich ~ now, this is NOT written in stone, but these are the layers I prefer, for texture and flavour mingling! First, you place three of your roasted red peppers in the bottom of the shell, I had to cut mine into halves to fit them in snugly.
Then add the sliced red onions…..
………and then some torn basil leaves
and then the olives ~ I cut my olives into slices, so they squash down better and don’t fall out when the loaf is cut!
Next is the Mozzarella cheese, push the slices into the corners as far as you can, tearing some if need be, so they all fit snugly into the bread shell.
Now we add the first layer of fresh sliced tomatoes, season them well with salt and black pepper too……
Scatter a few more basil leaves over the tomatoes……
Next is the ham…
Now we start to duplicate the ingredients again, adding more roasted red peppers, then more mozzarella cheese and then lastly adding some more slices of fresh tomatoes, not forgetting to add seasoning.
Finally, wrap the whole picnic loaf in cling film………
and sit something VERY heavy on top, I used a tin of Confit D’Canard! Leave it like this for at least 2 hours, it is better overnight actually.
Slice the sandwich before you go on your picnic if you wish, it is easier, or just take a wooden board and knife for slicing on location. You can also cut this into wedges too