This is a pretty classic take on panzanella, the Italian salad starring bread and tomatoes. I make these salads all the time as a way to use up any day- (or two) old bread. But in this case, I start with bakery-fresh bread and toast it to golden-brown goodness with olive oil. This is not a time for grocery-store sandwich bread—artisan-style breads like sourdough, ciabatta, or even baguettes are much better at standing up to the dressing. In late summer, when I am swimming in juicy-ripe tomatoes, this salad really shines, but this recipe works just as well at other times of the year by using always-in-season cherry tomatoes.
8 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, grated
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups ¼-inch rustic bread cubes
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
2 large tomatoes, diced
½ small red onion, thinly sliced
2 cups loosely packed fresh basil leaves
Crunchy sea salt, for serving
1 Preheat the oven to 350°F.
2 In a large bowl, combine 4 tablespoons of the olive oil and the garlic. Season with a pinch of salt and a twist of pepper. Add the bread cubes and toss to evenly coat. Arrange the bread in an even layer on a sheet pan and cook until toasted and golden brown, about 15 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before adding them to the vinaigrette in the next step.
3 In the same bowl, whisk together the vinegar, mustard, oregano, and remaining 4 tablespoons olive oil. Season with a pinch of salt and a twist of pepper. Add the tomatoes and onion and toss to combine. Add the bread cubes and basil and gently fold to combine.
4 Transfer the salad to a plate, garnish with crunchy sea salt and pepper, and serve.