One of the great culinary joys of summer on the farm is the arrival of tomatoes. From now until the plants cease producing, we eat them at every meal. A thick slice of juicy tomato on a bagel with cream cheese is a breakfast I dream about all year.
Sticking with the theme of bread, this week we offer Panzanella, or rustic bread salad.. Lots of cultures have devised ways to use leftover bread – French toast, bread pudding – and this one from Italy is a savory side dish or main course if you add cheese chunks or some type of protein. This only works when tomatoes are at their peak.
You can find lots of recipes on the Internet for bread salad. Some are more complex, with cucumbers and peppers or capers. Dress it up or down as you wish. Note: Bread salad does NOT make good leftovers as tomatoes suffer the minute they are put in the fridge. So make only as much as you need. For the following version, you need day-old bread (baguette or something with a crust), juicy heirloom or slicing tomatoes (you can add halved cherry tomatoes), onion, basil, olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper.
Cube your bread. If it’s very soft, pop in the oven on 350 for 10 minutes or so until crisp but not browned. Put in a bowl, Chop your tomatoes into chunks and your onion into slivers and add to the bowl. You should have about the same amount of tomatoes as bread or slightly less. Toss. Add olive oil. Toss. Add red wine vinegar. Toss, Salt and pepper. Toss. Chopped basil. Toss. Let sit 1/2 hour for flavors to meld. Test seasoning. Enjoy!