Refreshing and Rustic Tuscan Bread Salad

1 Loaf Crusty Bread
8 oz Fresh Soft Mozzarella
4-5 med Tomatoes
1 Cucumber
1 Red Onion
1 Clove Garlic
Olive Oil
Red Wine Vinegar
Fresh Herbs: Basil, Oregano, Chives


First prepare the dressing. Chop the garlic very fine rather or crush it in a press, though crushing really releases the garlic oil. So if it smells a little strong, chop rather than press. Add to 1/2 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup red wine vinegar, salt and pepper, pinch of sugar, 1 tbs or so lemon juice. Whisk all together and taste for seasonings.

If it seems bland, salt and pepper it more, too tangy add another pinch of sugar, and don't skip the lemon juice because it really brightens the flavor. Don't forget to add the chopped garlic before pouring over your salad.

Now, prepare the 4-5 med size tomatoes of your choice, seeded and peeled

too, if you think they need it. Summer heirloom tomatoes often have very thin skin and don't need peeling.

Seed the cucumber before slicing by cutting it in half lengthwise and scooping out the seeds with a spoon. Halve the red onion and slice thinly.
Tear the bread into uneven pieces, no need to cut neatly into cubes. Half a loaf is often enough or whatever equals about twice the measure of the vegetables. Once it is all mixed together the bread will absorb juices from everything else and reduce considerably in bulk, though. Toss everything together now and anoint with the dressing.

Really toss well, scooping all the way to the bottom and turning everything over until the dressing is thoroughly dispersed. It's easier to just use clean hands to mix it all together. Last of all add the whole 8 oz carton of fresh mozarella which is soft enough to pinch or tear into pieces easily. Snip in the herbs with scissors last: basil, oregano, chives - or crumble in dried, about 1 Tbs each or whatever your taste prefers.

If you can let this salad sit for an hour or so before serving the bread will soften and flavors meld. It's even better the next day.

Jan Burke.