by Julia Hayden

Summer Recipe Revel - Tomato Bread Salad

This is one of my favorite recipes when I have an abundance of two things - super-ripe and juicy tomatoes, and slightly stale artisan-bakery bread. HEB ciabatta works very well in this recipe. The bread must be of this type, which will hold shape and form when dampened, as anything else will go all soggy and disgusting.

Cube approximately half a ciabatta loaf, to make about 2 cups of 1 to ¾ inch cubes. Lightly dry cubes in a warm oven, if desired.

Slice coarsely 1 lb fresh tomatoes. You can also use a pound of cherry tomatoes, sliced in half, or even go half red and half yellow tomatoes - but they must be fresh and full of juice.

Place the bread in the bottom of a container, and the fresh tomatoes on top of them, so that the juice from the tomatoes will percolate down through the bread.

Mash together to make a paste, using something like the mortar and pestle shown here:

1 large clove garlic, cut into pieces
pinch sea salt, and pepper to taste

Add to the garlic paste and wisk to a salad-dressing consistency:
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
¼ cup olive oil

Pour the garlic paste/olive oil dressing over the tomatoes and bread. Add
1 tsp fresh marjoram or chopped parsley
¼ cup chopped fresh basil

Optional: garnish with ¼ cup Nicoise or Kalamata olives. Allow to sit for about half an hour, to blend flavors. This is not so good when left over to the next day, unless you enjoy very soggy bread - but it is superb when eaten within an hour or so of being made.

I bought the wooden mortar and pestle for a few pesetas in the local grocery store when I lived in Spain. It is now very well seasoned, through being constantly used to make things with olive oil added. I like it because - unlike most of the other mortar and pestle sets on the market in gourmet cook-shops, it is deep, and with straight sides; excellent when it comes to keeping fairly hard items being mashed in it from leaping out - and because they can then be mixed to an emulsion, just using the pestle.

And this recipe does not call for kitten. He was just supervising.