I’ve got a serious tomato problem. I just can’t get enough of them … or this salad, known in Italy as panzanella. To really nail it you’ll need great quality ingredients and the patience to allow the onions and croutons their required soaking time.
Toss ¾-inch cubes of baguette or sourdough bread in enough olive oil to evenly coat and then brown them thoroughly on sheet trays in a 400-degree oven or in a cast iron pan on the stove. Lightly salt and pepper and set aside to cool. Figure at least eight croutons per person as they’re the best part.
Soak some shaved red onion in 1/4 cup of red wine vinegar in a small bowl. After 20 minutes remove the onion from the vinegar and put it in a large bowl with the croutons.
For the dressing, whisk 1/2 cup of olive oil into the vinegar along with a minced garlic clove, a pinch or two each of salt and pepper, and a splash of balsamic vinegar if you have it. Pour over the onions and croutons, toss well and leave for 10 minutes.
To finish, mix the onions, croutons and dressing together with some chunked tomatoes, a peeled and cut cucumber, fresh basil torn into large pieces, and salt to taste.