In Tuscany, as in other parts of Italy, leftover bread rarely goes to waste. This tradition hearkens back to the days when poverty made it a necessity to use every morsel. The Italians, being a crafty sort, developed many delicious ways to use their old bread, including this heavenly salad. It is best of course with fresh summer tomatoes from your garden or farmer’s market.
3 tablespoons red wine (or Sherry) vinegar
juice of 1 medium lemon
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 cloves garlic-pressed
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
fresh ground black pepper—several grinds
4 cups day-old rustic Italian bread—cut into 1-inch cubes
2-1/2 cups cherry tomatoes (consider using red cherry tomatoes and yellow teardrop tomatoes)
1 small red onion—cut into thin slivers
3 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley
2 cups fresh salad greens or arugula
- If your bread is too fresh, cut it up early and let it sit for a few hours, or put the cut-up bread on a tray in a slightly warm oven to speed the process.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients. Reserve about 3 tablespoons of the dressing and set aside.
- Add the bread to the large mixing bowl with the dressing. Toss well and let sit for 20 to 30 minutes.
- Add the tomatoes, red onion, parsley and remaining dressing and toss. Taste and adjust seasoning to your liking.
- Spread salad greens on a serving platter. Place bread atop salad greens. Top with shaved Parmigiano Reggiano and serve.
I’ve thoroughly researched traditional Bread Salads and found that there are many other ingredients which are frequently used. Feel free to add any of these that suit your fancy…
~ Calamata or other olives (such as Nicoise)
~ Chopped cucumber
~ Capers (drained and rinsed of brine)
~ Fresh basil
~ Garbanzo beans
~ Hard boiled eggs
~ Shaved Ricotta Salata cheese (which is a pressed, salted, and dried version of ricotta), to replace the Parmigiano-Reggiano
~ You can even turn this into an entrée salad by adding tuna (I would recommend the good white tuna in the foil pouch) or by adding pancetta (Italian style bacon) or regular bacon chopped and crumbled over the top.