There are regular debates in my house about how many partial baguettes are too many to shove into the freezer (How can there be too many I always ask?). Summer eases the tension – leftovers can be used in this simple and zingy panzanella salad. And since tomato season is upon us (oh, happy day!) there’s no better way to showcase their lush, sweet flavour than eaten chunky and fresh tossed in tangy red wine vinegar and your favourite olive oil. The only other additions I use are red onion and basil, but you can also add roasted red peppers, capers and cucumbers. Spicy sausages, roast chicken or any grilled meats are a great match to the tart vinegar and fresh, seasonal veggies. You can prepare everything in advance (even toast the bread the night before) and just toss at the last minute.
This will serve 4. Preheat oven to 375 F. In a medium bowl (ideally your serving bowl) combine 4 cups chopped tomatoes (about 4 tomatoes, bite-size cubes), 1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion, and 1-2 cloves minced garlic.
In a small bowl or glass, combine 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar, 1/2cup plus 2 tbsps extra virgin olive oil (I like a mellower choice), a 1/2 teaspoon salt, a grind of fresh pepper. Whisk till well-combined, then toss with the veggies. Set aside to allow the flavours to meld.
Cut day-old bread into five cups of 3/4-inch cubes (try baguette or ciabatta – ideally any rustic style loaf) and place on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes (tossing once) until the cubes are crispy and browning. Cool.
Just before serving, add the bread and a handful of torn basil leaves to the salad, toss to coat everything well and serve. (The bread will soak up the dressing quickly – the reason you don’t want to add it too soon before serving – though some people like to let the salad sit 15 minutes or more.)