1 large loaf of ciabatta bread, torn into bite-size pieces (about 10 cups)
1 medium red onion
2 pounds tomatoes
1 English cucumber
1-cup fresh basil leaves
½ cup red wine vinegar
¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 350° F. In a medium bowl, toss the torn ciabatta with 2 tablespoon of olive oil.
2. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes, or until dried out and slightly toasted. Set aside. (The bread cubes can be made in advance and stored in an airtight container).
3. Peel and chop the red onion into medium dice. Place in a small bowl, cover with ice water, and let sit for 10-15 minutes. Drain and set aside.
4. Cut the tomatoes and cucumber into bite-size pieces. Place in a large bowl.
5. Tear the basil into bite-size pieces, and add it to the bowl.
6. In a small bowl or jar, stir the olive oil and vinegar together. Season with salt and pepper.
7. Add the red onion and toasted ciabatta to the tomatoes, cucumbers, and basil. Toss with the dressing and let sit on your counter for at least 30 minutes, or up to 2 hours, to allow the flavors to blend.
8. Before serving, toss one final time, adjust the seasoning, and place on platter or serving dish.
TIPS & TRICKS
• Ciabatta bread is the key of success in the salad. It has a nice dense, crumb and chewy crust that when slightly toasted, it dries out enough to absorb the dressing, but not get soggy.
• Use a combination of red or yellow tomatoes, or any varieties that look the best. Home grown or from a farmers market, tomatoes that are picked when ripe will have the best flavor. A few examples are cheery, early girl, grape, and heirloom to name a few.
• Use can substitute a Persian cucumber for the English cucumber. Both work well and just need to be cut into pieces. However, Persian cucumbers need to be peeled before slicing.
• The list of additional goodies you can add to this salad are endless. Here are a few suggestions: chopped pepper, olives, artichoke hearts, mini Mozzarella balls, and crumbled feta.
• Soaking the red onions in ice water Removes the better assertiveness of the onion and really crisp them up which adds a nice contrast to the salad.
• You can prepare all the ingredients a day or two ahead, but the salad is best combined and eaten the same day.