Layering pungent, bitter and salty ingredients adds complexity to vegetable dishes. Kalamata olives offer all three qualities, which makes them a good match for the smoky-sweet charred tomatoes, crisp cucumber and crusty bread cubes in this summer salad.
Bread Salad with Charred Tomatoes, Cucumber & Olives
1/2 loaf coarse country Italian bread such as pugliese (about 8 oz./250 g.)
3 or 4 large ripe tomatoes, about 2 1/2 lb. (1.25 kg.) total, preferably a mixture of colors
1 small English cucumber
1/2 red onion, chopped or thinly sliced
3/4 cup (4 oz./125 g.) pitted and coarsely chopped Kalamata olives
1/3 cup (3 fl. oz./80 ml.) extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tbs. red wine vinegar
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Leaves from 1/2 bunch fresh basil, torn into small pieces
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
Cut the bread into 1/2-inch (12-mm.) cubes and arrange in a single layers on a baking sheet. Lightly toast in the oven until the cubs are just dry and very light brown, 8-10 minutes. Remove the cubes from the baking sheet.
Preheat the broiler. Line the baking sheet with foil and place the tomatoes on the prepared sheet. Broil until the skins begin to char and blacken, 2-3 minutes. Turn the tomatoes and broil for another 2-3 minutes. Let cool.
Remove and discard any loose skin from the tomatoes (it’s fine if a few charred bits remain), and then coarsely chop. Transfer the tomatoes to a large bowl. Cut the cucumber in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds. Cut the halves crosswise into slices about 1/2 inch (12 mm.) thick. Alternatively, cut the whole cucumber crosswise into slices about 1/2 inch (12 mm.) thick. Add to the bowl with the tomatoes. Add the onion, olives, oil and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper and stir well to mix. Let stand at room temperature for up to 1 hour to blend the flavors.
Add the toasted bread cubes to the salad and toss gently. Add the basil, toss gently to mix, and serve. Serves 4.
Find more seasonal, vegetable-focused dishes in our new cookbook Vegetable of the Day, by Kate McMillan.