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A Bowl o' Bread

August 02, 2000|MARION CUNNINGHAM

Bread Salad is a dandy way to use leftover bread, something that always seems to be lying around. Be sure and use a good hearty loaf, not wimpy sandwich bread. I like crusty European-style artisan bread, the sort baked by local bakeries and some supermarkets.

Bread salad is made with bite-size cubes of bread with the crust removed, four or five large fresh, ripe tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, cucumber, red onion and a bunch of watercress. This recipe is an adaptation of Tuscan Bread Salad, which was popular long ago.

A bread salad also can provide another meal if you double the recipe (or, for two, use the leftovers). For the first supper, serve the salad with hard-boiled eggs on the side and finish with summer stone fruits (peaches, apricots or nectarines) with cheese.

For the second meal, try bread salad with pasta. I buy fresh linguine in the refrigerated section of the supermarket. Before you start cooking the linguine, put the leftover bread salad in a large bowl in a 200-degree oven to warm while you are cooking the linguine. Drain the linguine, add it to the bowl and toss. Finish it with a generous grating of sharp cheese. Dessert could be a fruit sorbet with cookies.

Bread Salad

Active Work and Total Preparation Time: 30 minutes * Vegetarian

4 or 5 large tomatoes

3 large cloves garlic

1/2 red onion

1 cucumber

Salt

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1/3 cup olive oil

1 (16-ounce) loaf French bread

1 bunch watercress

* Core tomatoes and cut in half lengthwise. Cut each half in 1/2-inch strips. Holding strips together, chop crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces. Place in large bowl and set aside.

* Cut garlic into tiny strips lengthwise, then hold strips together and chop into tiny pieces crosswise. Add to tomatoes. Cut onion into 1/4-inch strips lengthwise. Holding strips together, cut strips crosswise into 1/4-inch pieces. Add to bowl. Peel cucumber and cut it lengthwise down center. Using teaspoon, hold cucumber half over sink and scrape out seeds. Cut each cucumber half in 4 strips lengthwise, then cut into 1/2-inch pieces crosswise. Add to bowl. Salt vegetables in bowl to taste and toss to mix vegetables. Taste and add more salt if salad tastes flat.

* Place vinegar in small bowl, add oil and whisk to mix well, or use a spoon and stir briskly. Pour dressing over salad and toss to mix salad thoroughly.

* Trim crust off bread with sharp knife and discard. Cut loaf into 1/2-inch cubes and add to salad. Toss salad to mix thoroughly. If it seems a little dry, add more olive oil and another spoonful or two of vinegar. Remove leaves from watercress stems and add to salad. Toss and serve.

6 to 8 servings. Each of 8 servings: 224 calories; 348 mg sodium; 0 cholesterol; 10 grams fat; 30 grams carbohydrates; 6 grams protein; 0.56 gram fiber.

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