Tuscan Tomato and Bread Salad
I’ve never been to Tuscany but one day I hope to visit. Until then, I have to satisfy myself with images from the film Under the Tuscan Sun, my Italian cookbooks, the stories I vicariously collect from friends and relatives, and their photos that make me swoon.
The closest I’ve come to Italy was living next to our Italian neighbors in the Bronx. Roasting red peppers would send their rich aroma across Josie’s front porch over to ours during the long hot and humid summers. Josie lived next door with her husband Charlie, kids Eddy, Joey and Ann-Marie. Their Uncle Frank, lived in the apartment downstairs. His perennial summer outfit was white sleeveless undershirt, pants and belt. Until I get to Tuscany, that’s my Italian memory.
Thanks to my generous friend Jason, who dropped off a load of cherry tomatoes that still smell like sunshine, I offer up this salad.
I had a piece of leftover baguette in the freezer. I love Persian cucumbers and always have them around. Maybe Persian cucumbers aren’t the most authentic to use in a Tuscan salad but I used a little creative license. The basil came from my herb pot outside. The leaves are a tad pale, probably needed to move it into more sun, but the basil still has that terrific flavor.
My Novio eats just about everything. One of the very few things on this planet he doesn’t like are croutons. In a bread salad, the bread is generally not toasted or baked so that the chunks can soak up the delicious juices from the tomato, mixed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. This salad is a breeze to assemble. I don’t make the dressing separately, I just keep layering.
Chunks of cucumbers are cut similar to the bread.
Some fresh garlic, sliced red onion, chives and basil are added.
TUSCAN TOMATO AND BREAD SALADIngredients: 4 oz. (100 g.) piece of Italian or French bread, stale 2 dozen cherry tomatoes, cut lengthwise 2 Persian cucumbers, sliced in half lengthwise and cut thickly 1/4 medium red onion, thinly sliced 1 clove garlic, minced 1 T. chives, chopped 2 T. fresh basil 1/4 c. good olive oil 2 T. balsamic vinegar sea salt freshly ground black pepper More optional ingredient ideas: 1/4 c. black olives 1 c. garbanzo beans, drained 4 oz. goat cheese, crumbled OR 4 oz. Parmesan/Asiago cheese, shaved
Cut bread into bite-sized chunks and place in medium salad bowl. Add halved cherry tomatoes, minced garlic and red onion. Add olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper and toss to coat the bread well. Add cucumbers and chives and basil. If adding olives and/or garbanzo beans, place them in the bowl. Toss lightly. Let sit for about 20 minutes for flavors to blend. If adding cheese, place in salad just before serving.
A bit of Tuscany wafting into your home