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Bread Salad with Tomatoes and Lemon Cucumbers

Bread Salad with Tomatoes and Lemon Cucumbers
This rustic Tuscan salad, called panzanella, is best when made with a chewy, coarsely textured white bread. The bread must be at least 3 to 4 days old to provide the correct texture when mixed with tomatoes and vinaigrette. Round, yellow lemon cucumbers deliver a sweet, mild flavor to the salad.

Ingredients:

  • 3 lemon cucumbers or 1 English (hothouse)
      cucumber, peeled, halved, seeded and
      diced
  • Coarse salt, to taste
  • 1/2 lb. stale coarse-textured white bread
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 5 ripe tomatoes, 1 1/2 to 2 lb. total, seeded
      and diced
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 4 to 5 Tbs. red wine vinegar
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves, torn
      into small pieces

Directions:

Spread the diced cucumbers on paper towels and sprinkle with coarse salt. Let stand for 15 minutes. Place the cucumbers in a colander and rinse with cold water. Pat dry with paper towels.

Meanwhile, cut the bread into slices 1 inch thick and place in a shallow dish. Sprinkle the bread with the water and let stand for 2 minutes. Then carefully squeeze the bread until it is dry. Tear into rough 1-inch pieces and place on paper towels. Let stand for 10 minutes.

In a bowl, combine the cucumbers, tomatoes, onion and bread and toss gently.

In a large bowl, whisk together the vinegar and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Add the bread mixture and the basil, mix gently and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 4 hours.

Transfer the salad to a platter and serve chilled.
Serves 4 to 6.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Seasonal Celebration Series, Summer, by Joanne Weir (Time-Life Books, 1997).