Nothing goes to waste in the Italian kitchen, including slightly stale bread. Day-old bread is preferred for this typical Italian summer salad. The recipe calls for rosemary focaccia, but you can substitute any good-quality artisanal country or sourdough bread.
For the balsamic vinaigrette:
- 1/4 cup grapeseed oil
- 1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
- 1 Tbs. red wine vinegar
- 1 Tbs. Dijon mustard
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1/2 tsp. sea salt
- 1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
- 6 heirloom tomatoes, about 3 lb. total
- 1 pint small pear-shaped heirloom tomatoes
- Salt, to taste
- 6 slices rosemary focaccia
- Olive oil for brushing
- 6 garlic cloves
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 cup water
- 10 fresh basil leaves, rolled lengthwise and sliced crosswise into ribbons
- 3 Tbs. minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
- Freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 3 cups arugula, tough stems removed
- 2 cups chunks romaine lettuce hearts (3/4-inch chunks)
- 1 red onion, thinly sliced
To make the balsamic vinaigrette, pour the grapeseed oil and olive oil into a measuring cup with a spout. In a nonaluminum bowl, whisk together the balsamic vinegar, red wine vinegar, mustard, garlic, salt and pepper. Add the oils in a slow, steady stream, whisking constantly. Use immediately, or cover tightly and refrigerate for up to 2 days.
Cut the heirloom and pear-shaped tomatoes in half, place in a colander over a bowl and generously season with salt. Let stand for 10 minutes to drain; reserve the liquid released by the tomatoes.
Prepare a medium-hot fire in a grill. Brush and oil the grill grate.
Brush the focaccia slices with olive oil. Grill the focaccia directly over medium-high heat, turning once, until nicely charred, 4 to 5 minutes per side.
Transfer the focaccia to a cutting board and let cool slightly. Tear or cut it into 3/4-inch chunks.
Using the flat side of a chef’s knife, crush the garlic cloves into a paste.
In a large bowl, stir together the reserved tomato liquid, the vinegar, water and 1 Tbs. of the balsamic vinaigrette. Add the garlic paste and grilled bread chunks and toss to soak the bread. Add the tomatoes, basil and parsley. Adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper and toss again.
In another large bowl, combine the arugula, romaine and red onion, and season with salt and pepper. Add the balsamic vinaigrette, 1 Tbs. at a time, and toss to coat. Add the tomato and bread mixture and toss again.
Mound the salad in a large serving bowl or divide among individual salad plates and serve immediately. Serves 6.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma On the Grill, by Willie Cooper (Oxmoor House, 2009).