Summertime invokes memories of my father’s delicious beefsteak tomatoes he grew in our yard in New York. I remember how sweet and juicy they were. My mother on occasion would make a salad with them using garlic, oil, and fresh basil. She would pound the garlic and basil in a mortar and pestle. Then she would toss it with the tomatoes and add water. The dish was more like a garlicky
soup that you ate along with crusty bread to soak up the juices. I changed the recipe to suit American tastes and added the bread to the salad which makes it similar to a panzanella salad.
Difficulty Rating: Easy
Makes 6 servings.
1 Baguette a day or two days old (or ciabatta cut into 1-inch cubes about 5 cups)
3 tablespoons Extra-virgin olive oil, plus 1/4 cup
1 1/4 teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt, divided
2 pounds Campari tomatoes (or other sweet ripe tomatoes)
20 Basil leaves
4 cloves garlic
1/4 cup water
Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Wash the tomatoes, cut out the stem ends and cut into quarters. Cut larger tomatoes into bite-size pieces. Place in a large bowl and set aside. Place the bread cubes in a large bowl. Drizzle with 3 tablespoons olive oil, one tablespoon at a time while tossing to coat. Sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt and a pinch of pepper and toss to combine.
Place on a baking sheet and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until golden brown.
Place the basil, garlic, and remaining teaspoon of salt in a mortar and pestle, pound until no visible pieces of garlic remain. Stir in the remaining 1/4 cup olive oil and water.
Add the basil mixture and bread cubes to the tomatoes. Season with pepper. Toss lightly until combined.