Bread Salad with Charred Tomatoes, Cucumber and Olives
Layering pungent, bitter and salty ingredients is a great way to add dimension to vegetable dishes. Kalamata olives offer all three qualities, which makes them the perfect match for the smoky-sweet charred tomatoes, herbal-tinged cucumber and crusty bread cubes in this creative summer salad.
- 1/2 loaf (about 8 oz.) country-style Italian bread such as pugliese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 4 large ripe tomatoes, about 2 1/2 lb. total, in a mixture of colors if possible
- 1 small English cucumber, cut in half lengthwise and seeded
- 1/2 red onion, diced
- 3/4 cup pitted and coarsely chopped Kalamata olives
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 Tbs. red wine vinegar
- Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 1/2 bunch fresh basil
Preheat an oven to 375°F.
Arrange the bread cubes in a single layer on a baking sheet. Lightly toast in the oven until the cubes are just dry and very light brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove the cubes from the sheet and set aside.
Position an oven rack 6 inches below the heating element and preheat the broiler. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and place the tomatoes on the prepared sheet. Broil until the skins of the tomatoes begin to char and blacken, 2 to 3 minutes. Turn the tomatoes over and broil for 2 to 3 minutes more, then remove from the oven and let cool.
When the tomatoes are cool enough to handle, remove and discard any loose skin, then coarsely chop and transfer the tomatoes to a large bowl. (It’s fine if a few charred bits of skin remain.)
Cut the cucumber halves crosswise into slices about 1/2 inch thick and add them to the bowl with the tomatoes. Add the onion, olives, olive oil, vinegar and a sprinkle each of salt and pepper to the bowl and stir well to mix. Let stand at room temperature for up to 1 hour to blend the flavors.
Just before serving, add the toasted bread cubes to the vegetable mixture and toss gently. Pluck the leaves from the basil sprigs, tear them into small pieces and add them to the bowl with the bread and tomatoes, tossing gently to mix. Taste and adjust the seasonings and serve immediately. Serves 4.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma New Flavors for Vegetables, by Jodi Liano (Oxmoor House, 2008).