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Grilled Bread and Tomato Salad with White Beans and Herbs


submitted by willandleah on Jul-25-06
(this recipe is good for lunch/dinner)
(this recipe is suitable for vegetarians)
servings: 4

This is from Jack Bishop's A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen, which Sarah Jane and I have both raved about in the Forums here.  We have been eating this practically every week this month and my enthusiasm for it just grows and grows: it's easy, tasty, and if you grill the bread outside, your kitchen will even stay cool.  Perfect summer food.

A note on the grilled bread: I often get Will to just throw a few pieces of bread on the grill when he's cooking something else, and they seem fine for this salad even after a couple of days.  Last night, though, I toasted the bread under the broiler and so got to rub it with the garlic while it was hot, as Jack Bishop suggests.  It definitely added to the tastiness of the salad, although using the broiler did defeat my keeping-the-kitchen-cool purposes a bit.


4 large slices country bread, cut 1 inch thick (about 12 oz)
4 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Salt
1 large garlic clove, peeled
1 1/2 lbs ripe tomatoes, cored and cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 15-oz can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 medium cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch dice
2 Tbsp chopped fresh basil
2 Tbsp chopped fresh mint
2 Tbsp chopped parsley
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper
8 cups tender lettuces torn into bite-sized pieces (I have to confess we've never bothered with this part, just as I skip the suggested greens in the Quinoa-Arugula Salad.  But I love lettuce!  I swear!  Maybe next time I make this, next week.)

1. Light the grill.  Brush both sides of the bread slices with 2 Tbsp of the oil and sprinkle with salt to taste.  Grill the bread over a medium fire, turning once, until crisp and darkly colored (but not burned), about 2 minutes.  Forcefullly rub the garlic clove over both sides of the bread, leaving bits of garlic behind.  Discard any remaining piece of garlic (most of it should end up on the bread).  Set aside the bread to cool.

2.  Combine the tomatoes, beans, cucumbers, herbs, remaining 2 Tbsp oil, vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste in a large bowl.

3.  Cut the bread into 1-inch cubes and add the bread to the bowl with the tomato mixture.  Toss to coat.  Set aside, tossing once or twice, until the bread softens a bit and soaks up some of the flavors of the salad, about 15 minutes.  Adjust the seasonings, adding salt and pepper to taste.

4.  Line four large plates with the lettuce, if using.  Spoon the bread salad over the lettuce and serve.




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