Saturday, October 1, 2011

Tomato Salad with Crushed Croutons

Hi, friends. It’s been awhile since we’ve talked.  I’ve missed you.  I don’t like to go so long between posts, but I’ve been off having adventures.  Ok, not really… I’ve been dealing with some medical junk and recovery has left me a bit lacking in motivation to write – or do just about anything else.  At least I left you with a nice recipe to look at for the last couple of weeks though, right?  I mean those French Dip Sandwiches rocked.  In fact, I kind of wish I had one right now, and it’s only 10:30 in the morning.

And I’m on the mend, which means good things are coming your way.  I haven’t been cooking much lately, but I’ve got a ridiculous backlog of recipes waiting to be shared.  I’d hoped to post today’s recipe while it was still warm outside, but life happens.  I know you get that.  And maybe it’s still warm where you live.  We’ve got that fantastic warm during the day and cold at night thing going on right now.  It’s my favorite weather of the year – the kind where you can wear short sleeves during the day and burrow under blankets and sleep with the windows open at night.

Since fall is clearly cruising into town, today’s recipe is likely going to be my final ode to summer.  I think it’s an appropriate choice, too, since nothing says summer as much as tomatoes, and in this recipe, tomatoes are the star.  Ripe, juicy, sweet, and tangy tomatoes.  Lightly dressed with a simple red wine vinaigrette.  Topped with crunchy, cheesy, garlicky, salty, homemade croutons.  This recipe is brilliant.  And I am certain I will be thinking about it until tomato season rolls around next year.  If you are lucky enough to live somewhere where tomatoes are still in season, get them while you can, and try them topped with some crunchy, crushed crouton goodness.

Tomato Salad with Crushed Croutons
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

For the Croutons:
4 thick slices hearty white bread (like ciabatta, peasant, or crusty Italian bread)
1 small shallot, minced (I omitted)
1 clove garlic, minced
2 T. olive oil
2 T. Parmesan cheese, grated
1/4 tsp. table salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For the Tomato Salad:
1 lb. cherry or grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise
1 T. red wine vinegar
2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
1/8 tsp. table salt
Pinch of sugar
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Fresh basil, thinly sliced or fresh parsley, finely chopped

For the Croutons:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Tear the bread into chunks and pulse it in a food processor until it is coarsely ground.  (If you don’t have a food processor, just tear the bread until it is in very small pieces.)  On a rimmed baking sheet, combine the bread crumbs with the shallot, garlic, oil, Parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper.  Toss together until the crumbs are evenly coated.  Bake, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and dry, about 10 to 20 minutes.  Set aside to cool.

For the Tomato Salad:
In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, oil, salt, sugar, and black pepper.

Arrange the tomatoes, cut-side up on a serving dish.

Drizzle the dressing over the tomatoes.  Sprinkle the croutons over the tomatoes.

Garnish with fresh basil or parsley.

Serves 4 to 6.

Note: Don’t add the croutons to the salad until right before you are going to eat.  Otherwise, they will get soggy.  If you think you will have leftovers, refrigerate the tomatoes and dressing in one container and store the croutons in a separate container at room temperature.

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