Image courtesy of Andrew Scrivani for The New York Times
I love carbs. I eat salads when denying myself my love of carbs, which is often. But bread salad? ZING! It's like my heart pleasing my brain.
Adapted from “The Zuni Cafe Cookbook,” by Judy Rodgers (W.W. Norton, 2002)
Time: one hour, plus one hour’s marinating
- About 10 ounces day-old, chewy peasant style bread, sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled
- 1 1/4 cups extra virgin olive oil
- 4 tablespoons red wine or sherry vinegar
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- About 3 1/2 pounds very ripe tomatoes, plus 1 tomato for garnish
- About 1/3 cup finely shredded fresh basil, parsley or cilantro leaves, more for garnish
- 1 shallot, finely diced, or 1/3 cup finely diced red onion, more for garnish
- 1 small cucumber, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced (peel if skin is thick).
1. Toast or broil bread and rub lightly on one side with garlic; reserve garlic. In a bowl, whisk oil, vinegar, salt and pepper.
2. Core tomatoes. Slice top and bottom off each tomato and reserve. Cut tomatoes in half from top to bottom, then cut crosswise in 1/4- inch-thick slices. Scrape all juices into vinaigrette. Take reserved top and bottom slices and coarsely chop. Scrape into a strainer, salt lightly and set over vinaigrette. Press and smash tomatoes in strainer with a spoon and leave to drain.
3. Take a flat-bottomed bowl or dish, at least 3 inches deep and with a capacity of at least 1 1/2 quarts. Rub with reserved garlic, then discard garlic. Line bottom of dish with a layer of bread, cutting to fit dish if needed. Cover with a double layer of tomato slices. Sprinkle with some herbs, shallot and cucumber.
4. Whisk vinaigrette with tomato juices, then drizzle a few tablespoons over salad. Cover with more bread, then press with a spoon to encourage tomatoes to release juices. Repeat with remaining ingredients, finishing with a layer of tomatoes and reserving some of each ingredient for garnish.
5. Cover dish with parchment or plastic, then take a plate or flat-bottomed dish that will just fit inside salad. Place on top, press firmly, then add a weight to keep dish compressed (such as a large can of tomatoes). Set aside at room temperature for about an hour.
6. Salad should be oozing and moist. If salad seems dry, drizzle remaining vinaigrette over top. Taste juices; if they seem underseasoned, correct with more oil, vinegar, salt and pepper.
7. To serve, slide a knife around edge of salad, then place a serving dish over top and carefully flip both dishes over to turn salad out onto serving dish. If salad does not release, rap dish firmly on counter. Chop remaining tomato. Garnish salad with tomato, herbs, shallot and cucumber, and serve cut into wedges or in large spoonfuls.
Yield: 6 to 8 servings