- 4 cups torn pieces of sourdough or rustic peasant bread, 1 to 1 1/2 inches wide
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- Kosher salt and cracked black pepper
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon drained capers
- 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup thinly sliced red onion
- 5 assorted ripe tomatoes, halved or quartered, depending on size and shape
- 1 bell pepper, julienned
- 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and chopped
- 1 fennel bulb, trimmed and thinly sliced, fronds reserved (optional)
- 1/2 cup pitted and halved Niçoise olives
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
- 1/4 cup shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- Preheat the oven to 300°F.
- In a bowl, toss the bread with the olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Spread the bread on a baking sheet and bake for 7 to 10 minutes, until slightly crisp. (The pieces should not be as crispy as croutons.) Alternatively, spread the bread cubes on a baking sheet and let them dry, uncovered, for about 24 hours.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the vinegar, capers, zest, and garlic. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Whisking constantly, add the extra virgin olive oil in a stream until well incorporated.
- Add the onion, tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumber, fennel, and olives and toss with the vinaigrette. Adjust the salt and pepper.
- Tear the fennel fronds and add them to the bowl along with the basil and bread. Toss to coat. Set aside for 20 minutes.
- Divide the salad among 4 plates. Garnish each plate with shaved cheese and serve. If you prefer a moister salad, drizzle with a little more extra virgin olive oil.
Epicurious, January 2009, by Rick Tramonto, Mary Goodbody, and Belinda Chang