Bread salad or panzanella is a wonderful late summer dish that celebrates the arrival of ripe, juicy tomatoes and fresh basil. We like to use a crusty country-style bread such as Grand Central’s Como or Ciabatta loaf, but it’s also good with Peasant or Sourdough. If you want a more substantial salad, add crunchy cucumbers, olives, or roasted vegetables and chunks of leftover roast chicken or canned Pacific albacore.
Makes 4-6 servings
5 thick slices of Grand Central bread (day old is fine)
4 cups ripe tomato wedges
1 cup lightly packed fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
1/3 cup thinly sliced sweet onion
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/4 cup best quality olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Brush bread with good-quality olive oil and grill on both sides until very lightly charred. Let cool and tear into bite-size pieces and place in a medium salad bowl. Add tomato wedges and basil and toss gently.
In a small bowl, combine onion and red wine vinegar. Set aside for 5 minutes. Stir in olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper.
Pour over toasted bread mixture and toss to coat. Add salt and pepper to taste. Let sit for 10-15 minutes to let the bread soak up the tomato juices and dressing. Just before serving, toss again, taste and adjust seasonings if desired.