Last year I found my perfect loaf. One that fulfills all of my needs. I've tried others, when I feel the need channel my riskier side. Most times I am disappointed, let down. Nothing really compares to this beautiful baguette. With a hint of malt, adding a delicious nutty flavor, and a crisp outer crust, perfect brushed with a little olive oil before baking. The inner crumb sharing a texture similar to sour dough, but lacking the sharp flavors. A cross between a French baguette and a San Fransico sourdough, woosh, it's a beauty. I have to give most if the credit to Grand Central Bakery. They are the ones who have done all the hard work, mastering this fine specimen, and I am so very thankful for that. I encourage you to go out there and discover your perfect loaf. The one that calls your name, time and time again.
Besides dipping into soup, pairing with cheese, dipping in olive oil, and/or slurping up the last bits of pasta, we now have a new means to enjoy our bread. Cut into bite size pieces, coated with some really good olive oil, and sprinkled with salt. Toasted in the oven until slightly crisp, and mixed with tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, and onions. You could call it a bread salad, with a bit of veg. A real treat in my opinion.
I am completely blown away by this meal, as delicious and simple as it is. Enlightened really. Reminded that you don't need to dig too far to be inspired. That inspiration can be hiding in the cupboard, behind the pink Himalayan salt, next to the Saffron. Cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, olives, and bread are all staples in our diets. We've been eating them for years. Probably all together at one point or another. But, for me, never in a combination as lovely as this one. After the bread has been coated with oil and salt, baked until crispy. It is then mixed with the delicious juices from the tomatoes, onions, olives, and vinegar. The juices soak up nicely into the inner crumb, while leaving the outer crust nice and crisp. I encourage you to try this recipe, while we still have a bit of summer left, and the tomatoes are at their juiciest.
serves 6 - 8
notes: Choose a bread with a dense crumb (sour dough, rustic baguette, french bread, boule, etc.) and a crispy outer crust. After baking, the bread will soak in oil and vinegar. You want the bread to retain its shape, and not become too moist/soggy. If heirloom tomatoes are not in season, you can choose any other variety. Use whatever is fresh and available. That being said, this recipe tastes the best when tomatoes are fresh and local, summer! If you are looking for suggestions, I really enjoy the taste of Partanna olive oil, which is easily bought online.
1 loaf bread (4 - 6 cups), cubed
1/4 cup good olive oil + 2- 3 tbsp for dressing
1 tbsp kosher salt
4 - 5 heirloom tomatoes, chopped
1/2 English cucumber, thinly sliced with a mandoline on 1/8" setting
1/2 sweet onion, thinly sliced with a mandoline on 1/8" setting
1/2 cup cured olives
2 - 3 tbsp red wine vinegar
Preheat the oven to 400 ºF. Chop the bread into 1" cubes. Toss the bread with enough olive oil, so that the bread is evenly covered and glossy. Sprinkle with salt and toss. Taste the bread. It should be lightly moistened with oil. Add more oil and/or salt to your own preferences.
Place the bread on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes until crispy. Set to the side to cool.
In a large bowl, add the chopped tomatoes, cucumber, onions, and olives. Toss with 2 - 3 tbsp olive oil, red wine vinegar, and salt to taste. Let sit for 10 minutes. Add the bread and combine. Allow the mixture to sit for 15 minutes before serving. This will allow the bread to soak up the flavors from the vinegar. Serve as an appetizer, light lunch, or a side dish to grilled fish.