Summer is over. Waking up today to 55 degree weather (after a week peppered with 80+ degree days) are what my layered-look fantasies are made of. I have yet to meet a cardigan I don’t want on my person. I make this recipe fairly regularly, as it’s one of Simon’s favorites, but it’s really at its best in the summer when tomatoes are at their peak and need very little else outside of a sprinkle of salt and some olive oil to be the best thing you’ve ever eaten. Ever. I find this recipe to be amazing mostly because you are eating a “salad” that just also happens to be comprised predominantly of BREAD. My kind of salad. I find this can be a light meal on its own (particularly if you eat an enormous bowl of it), or if you are someone who needs protein for it to count as dinner, you can add a grilled (or broiled, if you’re in a New York apartment, where it’s illegal to own grills) steak or chicken.
4 cups day old freshly baked bread cut into bite-size pieces
3-5 ripe tomatoes depending on size
¼ cup red onion, diced
¼ cup basil torn up
1 ½ cups cut fresh mozzarella (bocconcini or mini mozzarella balls work well here too)
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
½ cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
If you are able to keep fresh bread in your house for more than a day, god bless you. Let’s be real though, when I buy bread, I buy it to eat the entire loaf right then and there. If you are in a similar predicament, just purchase fresh bread, coat the cut pieces lightly in olive oil and toast it at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes.
In the bowl that you are going to combine all of the ingredients whisk the balsamic vinegar and olive oil until emulsified and add salt and pepper to taste. Core the tomatoes and cut into bite-size pieces. I like to cut wedges in half cross-wise and that’s that. I also keep all the seeds and juice in it because I find it combines with the dressing in a really nice way. If you don’t like the texture of the seeds, feel free to remove them and chop from there. Add cut tomatoes to the emulsified dressing along with diced red onion. The longer the red onion sits in the vinegar dressing, the less bite it will have (and the less red-onion breath you will have later, which, quite honestly, ruins my life, so I try to get them in quickly). Sprinkle tomatoes with a little salt and pepper to make sure that they are well seasoned outside of the general seasoning added to the dressing. Stir to coat.
Add the toasted (or day-old, you people of great willpower) bread to the bowl along with the mozzarella and basil. Continue to mix until everything is fully coated with the dressing. Add salt or pepper to taste as desired.
As the last vestiges of summer wear off and we head into fall (with all its glorious layering options), fresh, deliciously ripe tomatoes are only going to be available for a little while longer, so enjoy quickly!