Tuscan Bread Salad

Recipe of the Month – Tuscan Bread Salad with Fresh Mozzarella and Basil

 

This is a spectacular summer recipe, but don’t use soft lettuces — something with a hardier leaf and a little
more assertive flavor, such as arugula, is called for here. Or use small spinach leaves, mache, watercress,
baby mustard greens, and kales, radicchio and other endives – either one type of green or a mix. But the
bread should dominate. A good densely textured rustic or European-style bread is essential for this recipe.
 
For the Mustard Vinaigrette
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon minced shallots
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
 
For the Salad
4 slices rustic bread, 1 inch thick
Extra-virgin olive oil
24 good black olives, preferably oil-cured
1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, cut in half, or 5 ripe Roma tomatoes, cut
into eighths
6 ounces fresh mozzarella, sliced
4 cups loosely packed flavorful salad greens, washed,
dried, stems trimmed, and torn into pieces if large
1/2 cup thinly sliced fresh basil
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
4 lemon wedges
Freshly ground black pepper
 
To make the vinaigrette, combine the vinegar, mustard, shallots, thyme,
and garlic in a bowl. Slowly whisk in the oil in a steady stream until the dressing
emulsifies. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.
 
Fire up the grill. Liberally brush both sides of the bread with oil.
Grill the bread on both sides until golden and nicely marked by the grill. Remove the bread from the heat
and use a serrated knife to cut the bread into bite-size cubes. Put the bread in a serving bowl with the
olives, tomatoes, mozzarella, and greens. Whisk basil leaves into the vinaigrette. Pour the vinaigrette
over the salad and toss well. There should be enough vinaigrette to soak into the bread, but the salad
greens should not be drenched — use a little more or less vinaigrette as needed.
 
Divide the salad among 4 plates. Scatter the Parmesan cheese and pine
nuts over the top of each salad and garnish each salad with a lemon wedge. Pass a pepper grinder at
the table.
 
Adapted from Tom Douglas’ Seattle Kitchen

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