Many dishes are created as a way of using up leftovers and one of the favorite ways to use leftover bread in the Mediterranean areas of Europe is to cut it up and put it into a salad with lots of fresh tomatoes. The bread soaks up the savory juices and it is simply delicious! This is the time of year to make this wonderful salad as the tomatoes are very ripe. While there are many versions, the kind I've been served in Nice is my favorite. The flavors of this salad involve classic Nicoise ingredients - olives, capers and anchovy filets. Now you can leave the anchovies out, but it is really so much better with them in and they create a wonderful savory flavor that doesn't taste like fish at all. I think it is best when you grill the bread although as it gives the salad a lovely smoky flavor, but you can also brown the cubes in the broiler or toast them in a pan with some additional olive oil. I used Udi's Gluten Free Bread for my salad and it worked out just fine although I toasted a good Italian loaf of bread for my sons. This salad tastes like summer to me and is perfect when paired with grilled fish or a grilled steak.
Mediterranean Bread Salad
6 large Tomatoes, cut into chunks
½ red onion, cut into small pieces
1 Tbsp Red Wine Vinegar
Squeeze of Lemon Juice
3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 garlic clove, minced
¼ cup Black Olives, pitted and halved
2 Tablespoons Capers
3 cups bread cubes from an Italian Loaf (like Ciabatta - I used Udi's Gluten Free Bread) crusts removed
Optional: 2 Anchovy Filets, mashed with a fork
3 Tablespoons Chopped Parsley
Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper
Mix together the Red Wine Vinegar, the lemon juice, the garlic and the olive oil. Add in anchovies, the red onion and season with salt and pepper.
In a large bowl, put in tomatoes, olives and capers. Pour dressing over and toss to coat. Grill or broil the bread or toast in a frying pan with a small amount of olive oil and add to the salad when ready to eat. Sprinkle the salad with parsley to serve.
Five Element Analysis
Tomatoes belong to the Fire Element and the vinegar, lemon juice, olives and olive oil ad capers all contribute a lot of the Wood Element. The garlic, onion and parsley bring in the Metal Element. The Water Element is represented by the Anchovies. Only the Earth Element is missing, which is covered if you serve steak, like I did. But if you serve fish instead, just add a sweet dessert or serve another Earthy dish to create balance.