Traditionally, the ingredients in this recipe are very humble. It was made by soaking sliced, day-old bread in water, draining the bread and seasoning it with salt, pepper and olive oil before topping the salad with cubes of ripe tomato and shredded basil leaves. The version I share with you here is somewhat different, made with onions–red onions or even sweet onions like Vidalia are best–and makes an excellent appetizer. You can serve it on its own, or with mozzarella or prosciutto or, for added complexity, seared shrimp. It is also delicious when served with grilled meats or poultry.
- 1 pound two day old country-style bread, crusts removed, cut into 1/2 inch cubes (about 8 cups)
- 2 pounds ripe tomatoes at room temperature, cored, seeded and cut into 1/2 inch cubes (about 4 cups)
- 1 cup diced red onion
- 12 fresh basil leaves, shredded
- 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Fresh basil sprigs
In a large bowl, toss bread, tomatoes, onion and shredded basil leaves until well mixed. Drizzle the olive oil and vinegar over the salad and toss to mix thoroughly. Season to taste with salt and pepper and let stand 10 minutes before serving. Decorate sprigs of fresh basil.