tomato salad with crushed croutons

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Tomato Salad with Crushed Croutons

The recipe below is fairly basic, but in the realm of tomatoes and bread, there are innumerable ways to tweak it. For example, I’m having a love affair with crumbly salty cheeses this summer in the feta family; tossing the tomatoes with some fine feta rubble before dressing and crouton-ing them would be amazing. Mint might be a fun change from basil, and if you’re into neither, try flat-leaf parsley for a fresh but mild flavor. I am nearly constitutionally incapable of making a dish that involves tomatoes and not adding small white beans. I resisted today, but would not next time here. Minced olives would be at home sprinkled over the tomatoes, too. And if you’re not so into red wine vinegar, an aged sweet balsamic dotted over the tomatoes would be… I bet I don’t even need to tell you how awesome. Would love to hear how you tweak this, so let me know in the comments.

Crushed croutons
4 slices hearty white bread
1 small shallot, minced (about 2 tablespoons)
1 garlic clove, minced or pressed through garlic press
1/4 teaspoon table salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Tomato salad
1 pound cherry or grape tomatoes, mixed colors if you can find them
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 tablespoon mellow red wine vinegar (yours isn’t mellow? use less)
1/8 teaspoon table salt
Pinch of sugar
Freshly ground black pepper

Handful basil leaves, slivered.

Prepare the crushed croutons: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Tear bread into chunks and pule them in a food processor until coarsely ground (largest chunks can be lima bean sized). No food processor? Keep tearing the bread up until it is in ragged, mixed sized crumbs. Spread crumbs on a rimmed baking sheet and toss with shallots, garlic, salt, pepper, olive oil and parmesan until croutons are evenly coated with oil. Bake until golden brown and dry, about 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from oven and set aside to cool slightly. (Warm is fine, hot might wilt your tomatoes, boo.)

Assemble salad: Halve each tomato lengthwise and arrange cut side up on a platter. Whisk together vinegar, olive oil, salt, sugar and a few grinds of pepper in a small dish. Drizzle over tomatoes. Sprinkle tomatoes with crushed croutons. Garnish with slivers of basil.


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