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.
Frankie’s Tips: 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.
Talk about a simple, yet delicious dessert! I’ll give this one the prize.
BEST WITH FRESH SEASONAL BERRIES! Strawberry season is upon us. You can get very good berries in the stores… even better in the farmer’s markets… and even better if you grow them yourself or go to a u-pick farm and pick them yourself! Strawberries bought outside of season lack the sweet, juicy flavors of high-season berries. But also be aware that there are types of strawberries which ripen later in the summer. These can often be found in your local farmer’s market.
Strawberries at Redmond Saturday Market
I RECOMMEND ORGANIC BERRIES: I like to know that my strawberries are either organic or that they are grown without pesticides. The reason is little critters love strawberries too so pesticides are often sprayed directly on the berries, and do not wash off easily. This is why they are listed #1 in the Dirty Dozen list… fruits and vegetables which should not be eaten unless they are organically grown.
Strawberries ripening in Frankie’s garden
MOSCATO D’ASTI is a sweet, sparkling, low-alcohol wine from the area of Asti in Piedmont. It is made from the Moscato (Muscat) grape and is wonderful for an apéritif or a “not too sweet” dessert wine. Pour it over some fresh sliced strawberries and top with whipped cream and anybody will be impressed!
A COUPLE OF TIPS:
If you like your whipped cream even a little richer and firmer, try adding some mascarpone cheese to it (that’s what I did here). It makes a good thing taste even better.
I left the traditional vanilla out of my whipped cream so as not to compete with the Moscato flavors.
Whole Wheat Pasta Pomodoro with Shrimp & Grilled Peppers:
At our restaurant, Frankie’s Pizza and Pasta, in the summer time we grill red and yellow bell peppers to serve with sausage in a seasonal gnocchi dish. One day when I was making lunch, I decided to put them together with some whole wheat pasta along with sautéed shrimp, mushrooms and Pomodoro Sauce. It was a stroke of genius!