So here we go with the summer kick-off: Fourth of July weekend! But as any person in the restaurant/food business will tell you, holidays are an excuse to either 1) put our feet up and do nothing, or 2) go to work, or 3) go to somebody else’s house and let other people cook for us. This coming weekend I’m doing all three. At some point I’ll throw together something that’s lying around in my house. And as usual, because I had such lofty plans of making some sort of lovely cheese plate with salami, olives and baguette with a good bottle of red (because we’re patriotic!), the baguette is still sitting there on the counter, right next to the cabbage that I got in my CSA box this week (which will be turned into that slaw I wrote about). The baguette is not only stale, but it’s turned into a lovely soggy mess and I refuse to throw it away because the kids begged for it and only want that for a snack and because “I’m starving mom!!!! I need some baguette with butter!” And there it is, staring at me, just waiting to be loved.
When I worked in Italy in a family-owned restaurant years ago, those crazy Italians never threw anything away. And with that stale bread that collected after every night of service in the restaurant, we’d make a bread salad that was so good and so satisfying and so easy, that there really was no excuse not to do it.
Even if you have a perfectly fresh loaf of bread, it still works – just toast up the bread cubes in a pan of olive oil or throw the sliced bread on the grill with whatever you’re grilling and rip it apart. Either way, you’re getting a meal in a bowl, or a delicious side for your grilled meat. And you won’t waste your delicious stale baguette. That one that your kids made you buy for no reason.
- 1 loaf BAGUETTE, cut into cubes
- 3 large HEIRLOOM TOMATOES, cut into chunks about the size of the bread
- 1 bunch BASIL, ripped into pieces
- Equal amounts of OLIVE OIL and SHERRY VINEGAR
- SALT and PEPPER
- Toast your baguette cubes if you'd like.
- Toss the bread, tomatoes,and basil together in a bowl.
- Using both hands, with one hand holding the bottle of olive oil and the other holding the vinegar, gently shake both into the bowl of bread and tomatoes.
- Season the salad with salt and pepper and toss all to combine thoroughly.
- Let it stand for about 20 minutes to allow the flavors to combine.
- Taste for seasoning.
- Note: At this point you can add whatever else you'd like! Add a can of good quality tuna for a meal; add capers and olives to really jazz it up; put in some bacon pieces for a take on the BLT!