Wednesday, April 18, 2007
There's a wonderful bakery and coffee shop in Gainesville called 2nd Street Bakery that is just about the coolest place I've seen open in Gainesville since I've been here. (Tied with Satchel's Pizza, of course.)
The bread and pastries at 2nd Street are addictively good, especially the crusty French baguette. It's so big, though, that Jason and I rarely eat the whole thing before it gets stale.
We've done everything from fresh bread crumbs to French bread pizza (this Cooking Light recipe is especially good) but I have to say my favorite use-up of the last bits of baguette is panzanella salad. Italian cooks waste nothing, so this salad was likely born out of necessity as a way to use their stale bread and just about any veggie their gardens grew.
Whether your bread is a little stale or fresh from the bakery, the croutons are definitely my favorite part. I've seen a million different varieties of this salad, but to me, the simpler the better. Choose tomatoes that are sweet and in-season. If you can't find big tomatoes that meet the taste requirement, grape tomatoes are almost always sweet. I don't love raw onions, but if you do, red onion is a traditional addition.
1 medium or 1/2 to 3/4 of a large crusty baguette
2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Big pinch of Kosher salt
5 grinds of black pepper
3-4 tomatoes, seeded or 1 pint grape tomatoes
Juice from 2 lemons
1 clove of garlic, finely minced or grated with a microplane
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut baguette into bite-sized cubes. In the salad bowl, toss cubes with olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes or until golden.
Meanwhile, cut tomatoes in bite-sized chunks. Peel cucmber, cut in half lengthwise and with a spoon, scoop out seeds. Cut cucumber into bite-sized chunks and toss with tomatoes in salad bowl.
In a small bowl, whisk together dressing ingredients. Stir in croutons and toss everything with dressing. Let sit for a few minutes before serving.