What is that quote?… “A jug of wine, a loaf of bread – and Thou.” I say, add a few tomatoes to that!
A fresh loaf of rustic bread can go stale very quickly. Here are a couple of my favorite super-easy uses for it.
Both are ideal summer starters, when local tomatoes (I get mine from Encino’s Tapia Brothers) are at their peak of freshness.
First of all, please don’t pronounce it “bru-shetta” – it’s “bru-sketta.”
Slice a loaf into ½ inch thick slices – on the diagonal. Brush both sides with olive oil and grill on the barbeque on in a grill pan. You can grill these in the morning and when they’re cool, pop them in a re-sealable bag.
Roughly chop your favorite variety of fresh tomatoes and mix with lots of chopped basil, and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
When ready to serve, cut a garlic clove in half and rub it on one side of the bread slices. Top with the tomato-basil mixture, or serve it in a large bowl and let guests make their own.
Panzanella – Tuscan Bread Salad
I just learned that back in the middle ages, onions were the main ingredient and not tomatoes. Now it’s almost always made with tomatoes – good idea!
I don’t even bother making a dressing for this. After all, the whole idea is to use up stale bread – keep it as rustic as possible!
Cut up your stale bread in large chunks. Place the chunks in a large bowl and just drizzle on some red wine vinegar and extra virgin olive oil. Let the bread sit for a few minutes. Then toss in chopped tomatoes, and, basically whatever you like. I love basil, so of course I use lots of it.
And maybe some little chunks of mozzarella, burrata, or slices of fresh parmesan. Then drizzle on a little more vinegar and oil.
Serve with Maldon and fresh cracked pepper. You can add other ingredients – cucumber, celery, capers, a box of frozen artichoke hearts, anchovies. But I prefer it simple with tomatoes, basil and cheese.
If your bread isn’t stale, grill the bread slices before cubing it. Or cube it and toss it in a large skillet with some olive oil.
Let me know if you make either dish and how you like them!