Sunday, March 27, 2011
I went to the grocery store the other day and saw the best looking tomatoes in months. Summer is approaching! This is an italian salad that is best when made with fresh produce in the middle of the summer, but I jumped the gun a bit and made it in late March. Oops. I used a few recipes as a base (mostly Ina Garten's) and tasted as I went. I ate this and this alone for an entire meal. Delicious.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 loaf french bread
- 2 large ripe tomatoes
- 1 yellow/orange bell pepper
- 1/4 red onion
- ~15 basil leaves
- optional items: cucumber, pancetta, feta
- 1 teaspoon finely minced garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- salt and pepper
Cut the french bread into 1-inch cubes. Head the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add 3/4 teaspoon salt and the bread cubes. Toss to spread the oil evenly. Heat for about 10 minutes, tossing frequently. It is important to toast these a bit so that they do not become soggy later on.
Meanwhile, chop the vegetables to be the same size as the bread cubes. Slice the red onion thinly. Chop the basil. If using pancetta, dice and saute until cooked. Add all the vegetables together in a large bowl.
To make the dressing whisk together the garlic, mustard, and vinegar. Slowly pour in the oil while whisking. Taste for salt and pepper.
Once the bread is finished, let cool slightly. Add to the vegetables and pour the dressing on top. Toss well to coat. Let sit a few minutes before serving. What happens is absolutely fantastic: the bread soaks up the dressing and you get a bit of a crunch, while not feeling like you're eating crumbly croutons. Serve and enjoy!
* Makes enough for 2 main course servings or 4 salad servings.