Adapted from Essentials of Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan
Serves 4 to 6 as a side dish.
This Tuscan bread salad makes a great lunch or a lovely side dish to almost any meal. It is a truly great summer salad because you have very fresh tomatoes. Be sure to use a gutsy country bread. The anchovies are optional.
1/2 garlic clove, peeled
1 tablespoon of capers, rinsed and drained
2 or 3 flat imported anchovies (optional but delicious)
1/2 sweet bell pepper
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon of choice quality red wine vinegar
2 cups or so of firm, good bread, crust cut away and bread cut into 1 inch cubes and then toasted under the broiler
3 fresh, ripe firm round tomatoes– our heirlooms will work beautifully here
1 cup cucumber, peeled and diced small
1/2 medium red onion, sliced thin
Freshly ground black pepper
Slivered fresh basil for garnish (optional)
Ready your bread cubes, cut and toasted. Mash the garlic, capers (and anchovies if using) to a pulp, using the back of a spoon against the side of your bowl, a mortar and pestle or a food processor. Remove your seeds and core from the pepper and dice into 1/4 inch pieces. Put the sweet pepper and the garlic mixture into your serving bowl, add salt, olive and vinegar. Toss it all together thoroughly.
Put your bread cubes together with any bread crumbs into a smaller bowl. Add your chopped tomatoes and toss together with a little salt. Let it sit for a bit and then add the bread mixture to your serving bowl and toss everything together. Let the salad sit for about 15 to 30 minutes to allow the flavors to blend.