"To make a good salad is to be a brilliant diplomatist. The problem is entirely the same in both cases. To know exactly how much oil to put with one's vinegar."
Like most people these days, the recession has touched us and I'm making a concerted effort not to waste anything in the spirit of economy. Last night I made some grilled garlic ciabatta rolls. Now, I don't know about you, but when garlic bread is around I have to exert great discipline not to eat it until I explode. We had a couple rolls leftover last night and this salad came to mind. About a week ago I caught the Barefoot Contessa throwing one together on the Food Network.
This is her recipe, but again, in the spirit of thrift, I substituted what I had, rather than run out and purchase more. For instance, queen olives for calamata and vidalia for red onion. I also added some fresh chopped parsley and basil since the garden is bursting with them. Half an hour ago, this was my lunch and HOLY WOW, it was THAT GOOD. I am prone to jags and am pretty sure a new one has just been launched. Crunchy garden fresh vegetables, perfectly dressed and packed with flavor. And that garlic bread I adore? Re-incarnated in this salad, it was just as good. This is a great way to use up any leftover baguette or ciabatta, and would travel really well to a picnic. I wouldn't count on leftovers.
1 small French baguette or boule [or leftover garlic ciabatta!] cut into 1-inch cubes
1 cucumber, cut into chunks (peeled or unpeeled - your call)
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 yellow bell pepper, diced
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes
1/2 red onion, sliced in half rounds
1/2 pound feta cheese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 cup calamata olives, pitted
[1/2 cup combined fresh parsley and basil, chopped] optional
For the viniaigrette:
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 cup olive oil
Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large saute pan. Add the bread cubes and sprinkle with salt [and garlic powder]. Cook over medium heat, tossing frequently, for about 5 minutes until nicely browned.
Place the vegetables in a large bowl.
Whisk together the vinaigrette ingredients and pour over the vegetables. Add the feta and bread cubes and mix together lightly. Set aside for 30 minutes to let the flavors meld and serve at room temperature.