Who doesn’t love a perfectly ripe, fresh tomato? Smell the earthy fresh aroma, see the evenly distributed color: bright red, orange or yellow. Squeeze your tomatoes and feel the flesh give just so slightly, and taste the super-sweet, juicy flavor.
The tomato plants in my garden are burdened with an abundance of fruit ripening daily. We enjoy tomatoes thinly sliced on egg sandwiches for breakfast, tomatoes chopped with cucumbers, feta and mint in a salad, intense sungold cherry tomatoes in fresh summer salsa, and tomatoes layered with eggplant, topped with parmesan and baked to a crusty, idyllic finish.
The ingredients in Italian Bread and Tomato Salad are simple and the recipe is quick and easy to prepare. The secret to this salad’s success is to respect the integrity of your ingredients; perfectly ripe tomatoes, fresh basil, and light and fruity olive oil.
The fresh basil is sliced “chiffonade”, which literally translated from French means “made of rags”. This process was first explained to me by Sam Hayward, a pioneer of the local food movement and the James Beard award-winning chef from Fore Street in Portland.
To slice chiffonade, stack the basil leaves and roll them into a fairly tight cigar shape. With a sharp knife, slice the across the roll, creating thin strips or shreds. Scatter these strips over the salad.
Italian Bread and Tomato Salad is a winner; delicious for dinner with a burger or steak, elegant for lunch with fresh corn on the cob, and a quick snack out of a jar when on the run.
Italian Bread and Tomato Salad
- 4 ripe tomatoes, seeds removed, cut into cubes
- 1 cup chopped red or sweet white onion
- 6 ounces rustic-style bread, crusts removed and cut into cubes, about 6 cups
- 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
- 1- tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
- 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 cup basil leaves, sliced chiffonade*
- sea salt and fresh pepper to taste
- In a bowl large enough to accommodate the salad, whisk together the chopped garlic, vinegars and olive oil. Add the tomatoes, onions and bread cubes. Stir gently to mix well. Let sit for at least 30 minutes at room temperature. Add the basil, stirring gently to combine. Taste and season with sea salt and fresh pepper. Makes four servings.