My wish in life is for it to be 70 degrees and sunny everyday. Is that really so much to ask? Apparently so when you live in Washington, DC. I still ask myself why I moved from sunny CA to New York City. Ever single winter I whine and complain. I don’t like snow. I don’t like cold. And I will probably not accept your invitation to go to the park for a snowball fight. Nope. Definitely not. So as soon as it starts to get a little warmer, like 50 degrees, the coats go away and I bust the flip flops out. Now that we are hitting 75/80 nearly every day, yeah, I can get behind that. Warm weather in the east coast does not last forever and I take full advantage of it. There is something about summer that makes me want to eat salad all the time for every meal. Fruits and veggies make me feel so fresh and healthy and throwing this and that into a salad just make me happy. Another thing that makes me happy? BREAD. French bread, wheat bread, ciabatta bread, ANY BREAD. Being an athlete who chose to partake in the two sports that REQUIRE mass consumption of bread you might say I have a love/hate relationship with starchy goodness. And by love/hate I mean love/can’t live without. Obviously.
I love all things starchy and delicious. Who doesn’t? I don’t do whole-wheat pasta. I’m sure it is delicious and while I appreciate the health factor, I embrace the white pasta and white French/Italian bread. I was craving something new and have been wanted to make this forever but it’s so great to use day-old bread for this Italian salad. Well, I didn’t have day-old bread so I went to Whole Foods and bought end of the day bread which is kind of the same thing, right? I love the Italians because they don’t really measure things. Kind of just throw ingredients in the pot and hope it tastes good. Usually more butter and/or oil is added so it is always delicious.
(serves 4-6 people salad servings, or 2-4 people entree servings)
3 tablespoons good olive oil
1 small French bread or boule, cut into 1-inch cubes (6 cups)
salt/pepper, to taste
2 large, ripe tomatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled, seeded, and sliced 1/2-inch thick
1 orange bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
1/2 red onion, cut in 1/2 and thinly sliced
20 large basil leaves, coarsely chopped
½ cup mozzarella cheese, chopped into ½ inch cubes
For the vinaigrette:
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons Red Wine vinegar
3 tablespoons Olive oil
Heat the oil in a large saute pan. Add the bread and salt; cook over low to medium heat, tossing frequently, for 10-15 minutes, or until nicely browned and fairly crunchy. Add more oil as needed.
In a large bowl, mix the tomatoes, cucumber, red pepper, yellow pepper, red onion, basil, and capers. Add the bread cubes and toss with the vinaigrette. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Serve, or allow the salad to sit for about half an hour for the flavors to blend. I have included measurements here for portioning, but definitely add more or less to taste. I always add more. Especially bread. and cheese. This is just veggies, cheese, and bread. And a tiny amount of vinigrette, if you choose. Super easy. And super yum.