My Three Loves . . . Bread, Tomato & Basil Salad

When cooking or having anything to do with FOOD, my three loves are: tomatoes, basil and bread.  You guessed it! Italian food is one of my favorites. I love making brushetta and another twist with the same ingredients:

Panzanella (Tuscan Bread and Tomato Salad)

Ingredients

  • 4 large vine ripened tomatoes, cut into large cubes or wedges
  • 1/2 pound stale country-style Italian bread, crusts removed and cubed (about 8 cups); recently I have been using the olive oil and rosemary bread from Costco which is TO DIE FOR SOOOO YUMMY. This bread is wonderful, so good. can’t say enough.
  • 1 1/4 cups thinly sliced red onions (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 bunch fresh basil, stems removed, washed and dry, tear into pieces with hands
  • 1-2 Tablespoons dry basil (optional)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions

  1. Cut the bread into cubes. Place into a pan or bowl
  2. Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees
  3. In a small sauce pan, heat the butter and garlic over medium heat until melted
  4. Pour the butter/garlic mixture over the bread cubes; toss to coat
  5. Sprinkle the dry basil over the bread as well. It will stick b/c of the butter/garlic mixture.
  6. Pour the bread mixture into a casserole type dish so the bread can cook evenly
  7. Bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes; you just want the bread to get a little crispy
  8. While the bread is in the oven, cut your tomatoes and wash your fresh basil
  9. When the bread is ready, pour into a large bowl, and combine the tomatoes, torn basil and onions (if you are using onions). Do not cut the basil with a knife. It will cause the basil to turn black or get dark.
  10. In a small bowl, whisk together the balsamic vinegar and olive oil.
  11. Pour the dressing over the bread salad
  12. Add salt and pepper, to taste, and toss to combine. Serve immediately. (If you need to wait a bit before serving, don’t pour on the dressing. The bread will absorb everything and will become too soggy. Pour on the dressing right before you eat/serve)

Bread and tomato salad. This photo doesn't do the dish justice.

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