It's no secret that I'm a tomato fiend. I'll eat tomatoes plain with salt and pepper or stacked high on sandwiches, hamburgers, wraps, you name it. My husband, on the other hand, is not a fan. This usually serves me well, as I get his castaways to add to my own grub. (Score!) The game changed this week, though, with the gift of farm-fresh tomatoes from my dear in-laws. He's been snacking on them like nobody's business! I decided this afternoon that, if I was going to knock out the panzanella on my 28 by 28 list, I'd better act fast. It was delicious! Light and refreshing, the addition of the balsamic vinegar and basil transformed a standard tomato salad into something special.
Adapted from Simple Recipes
4 cups tomatoes, cut into large chunks
4 cups day old crusty bread*, cut into large chunks
1 cucumber, peeled and sliced
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1 bunch fresh basil, stems removed
1/4 cup good olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Chiffonade the basil. (Stack the basil leaves on cutting board. Roll tightly and slice into thin strips.)
2. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Allow to marinate, covered, at room temperature for 30 minutes to an hour.
3. Serve at room temperature.
* If you don't have hard old bread sitting around, you can take fresh crusty bread, cut it into big cubes, lay the cubes out on a baking sheet, and place in a 300°F oven for 5-10 minutes, until the outer edges have dried out a bit (not toasted, just dried). If you use fresh bread without doing this, the bread will turn to mush in the salad.