I made these incredible toasts from Not Without Salt last night and I ended up with half a baguette's worth of toasted bread left since The Kid didn't come home for dinner. I kept staring at them all day, wondering what to do with them when I thought "fattoush!"
I just got myself the cookbook, Jerusalem, and after reading it cover to cover I am mildly obsessed with all things middle eastern right now. I often find myself walking down the street and "fattoush!" will just pop into my head and I have to run home and open Jerusalem and read it a bit to calm myself down.
Of course, toasted baguette is the the wrong kind of bread for fattoush but it got me thinking about the idea of a bread salad and although wrong for fattoush, it WAS a right kind of bread for panzanella. I also had a hunk of buffalo mozzarella left and I knew it would be great in there so, once again, the decision was made for me. You can use all plain old, red tomatoes but I like to use a variety of tomatoes so that the salad is pretty. It's important to me to make our food attractive and colourful but it tastes the same if all the tomatoes are red. Let's get real here for minute, shall we? No matter how tasty it is, a salad of wet bread really does need all the help it can get to seduce new customers. Can you imagine if we just called all the food we eat what it is?
"Come on kids, we are having wet bread salad and dead poultry chests for supper!"
1 demi baguette
butter or olive oil
2 red tomatoes
1 yellow tomato
1 orange tomato
2 mini cucumbers.chopped
1 scallion, thinly sliced
approx 50g buffalo mozzarella
handful fresh basil, roughly chopped
3 tbls extra virgin olive oil
1 1/4 tbls balsamic vinegar
pinch kosher salt
grind of pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
The day before or the morning of, slice the baguette into 1/2" thick slices. EIther butter it or drizzle some olive oil on the bread and toast in a frying pan over medium heat for about 4 minutes per side or until it's nice and crispy with brown spots. Set aside until you need it for the salad.
When it's time to make the salad, tear the bread up into bite sized chunks and put it in a bowl. Chop the tomatoes into bite sized chunks and add to the bread in the bowl along with the scallion and the chopped mini cucumbers. To be honest, it's up to you how big or small you want everything chopped but I like to do a uniform bite size on the bread, the tomatoes and the cucumber. Now, tear the mozzarella up, add it to the bowl with the sliced scallions. The last thing to throw in there is the basil (this is also up to you - if you love basil, add a lot if you don't add less - taste, taste, taste)
For the vinaigrette whisk the oil, vinegar, salt, pepper and garlic. Pour this over the salad and toss well. Cover and set aside for at least one hour. It just gets better as it sits so I like to make it in the afternoon and leave it out at room temp until supper time.
**I just want to say that as far as the ingredients like tomato, cucumber, cheese and basil are concerned, you can play around a bit. You can use cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes or multi coloured tomatoes - just make sure they are cut up so that the tomato juices mix in with the dressing to make the bread nice and moist.
You can most certainly throw in double the amount of cheese if you and yours are crazy for cheese and feel free to cut the basil down or double it. Just keep tasting as you are making it and adjust it to suit your own taste.