A couple of years ago I planted a garden. I had high hopes.
There were rows and rows of tomato plants of every variety. Red peppers, green peppers, jalapenos, and onions all promised zesty pasta dishes and the freshest of salsas. Lettuce seeds went into the ground with hopes of one day going into the perfect sandwich. Cilantro, parsley, and basil immediately perfumed the entire area.
My joy and hopes were short-lived. Despite my admittedly half-hearted efforts to deter animals from my garden just about everything became feed for deer and rabbits over the course of the summer. Of the fifteen tomato plants I put in the ground I didn’t get one tomato. There was a scant jalapeno that was allowed to go past a bud. The lettuce was never meant to be. The cilantro lasted a few days before going to seed (oops) and becoming coriander. The only thing that flourished untouched was my basil, which grew in abundance and went into many (many, many) batches of pesto.
This year I decided to get back into gardening on a little smaller scale. I have a tiny pot on my deck with some rosemary, parsley, and basil. It looks pretty and I enjoy using it slowly as it grows.
If my garden had worked out all those years ago, I’m sure I would have made this salad many times. Its the perfect summer salad, begging to be eaten at picnics and barbecues. If you learned anything from my food safety post, you’ll know you don’t want a mayonnaise laden salad baking in the sun all day. This salad, however, tastes best at room temperature and is generally worry-free over the course of a leisurely lunch.
Its fresh, its beautiful, its aromatic. Summer in a bowl.
1/2 pound good quality day old crusty Italian bread, cubed
4 small roma tomatoes, chopped
1 small red onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 cup loosely packed basil leaves, torn
2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
In a large bowl combine all ingredients, adding salt and pepper to taste.