This classic Italian dish is the perfect way to transition from summer to fall. You combine hearty leftover bread—the drier the better—with juicy tomatoes, basil, and olive oil. Some people like to add all manner of things like cucumbers or peppers or olives. I'm a purist and I like to keep it simple. I might add some thinly sliced sweet red or yellow onion or a splash (just a splash) of red wine vinegar, but I try to let the tomatoes shine through.
For this recipe, I used about 1/3 of a loaf of very stale La Brea Bakery whole grain loaf, three large and juicy heirloom tomatoes, a couple handfuls of fresh basil, about 4 glugs of fruity olive oil (use the best you have), half a thinly sliced onion added just before serving, a slug of red wine vinegar, and salt and pepper.
You need to start the recipe at least two hours before you serve it. The best part about it is that it needs no refrigeration, in fact, refrigeration destroys the flavors, so make sure to keep and serve it at room temperature.
The procedure is as follows:
- Dice bread into 1-inch cubes, and layer into a bowl.
- Placed chopped tomatoes (no need to seed) and any accumulated juices into the bowl atop the tomatoes.
- Salt the tomatoes, drizzle olive oil over everything, scatter basil over the top, and just let the bowl hang out on your kitchen counter for 2-4 hours.
- Just before serving, add the onions and a splash of vinegar. Toss well. Salt and pepper to taste, and add a touch more olive oil. Serve. Serves 4.
You can also omit the last step and just serve it after the bread has had a chance to absorb the tomato juices.