Tuscan Bread Salad with the BEST Basil Vinaigrette Ever (Whitewater Cooks)

You are going to want to grab a pen!  No seriously I think this is one of the best salad dressings I have made!  Make it – thank me later!

This recipe is out of a cookbook called Whitewater Cooks by Shelley Adams.  I bought all three of her books a few months back and proceeded to lose  misplace them.  I actually re-ordered them because I searched everywhere with no luck.  My husband cleaned the garage on the weekend and found them (go figure)!  Why were they in the garage – don’t ask.  I guess when the new ones come in someone will be getting a gift in the mail from me.

This is the first recipe I tried out of it and it was fantastic – especially the dressing….I’m in love – good thing I doubled my batch – basil dressing all week!

This salad would even be great without the bread – but you would have to rename it…anyway.  I made the salad as directed except I did not add the optional anchovies as I didn’t have any on hand (only had the paste) and I didn’t let my bread sit for 20 minutes in the dressing…I really hate soggy bread.  I know the traditional idea of a bread salad is to allow the bread to mop up all that beautiful dressing – but I just really can’t get on the soggy bread bandwagon- so instead when I make my bread salads – I usually use for surely at least day old bread (so it’s a bit dry) and I actually add in just before serving with each individual serving so that I can save the leftovers without the bread getting too soggy the next day.  But if you are feeding a crowd – go ahead and throw the whole lot in.  I can’t talk my boys into trying this salad – so with just my husband and I we’ll have leftovers for tomorrow as well.

I’m posting the recipe as written in the book:

BEST Basil vinaigrette

 – 2 garlic cloves, crushed
 – 1 1/2 tsp dijon mustard
 – 2 tbsp honey
 – 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
 – 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
 – 2 cups of fresh basil leaves (must use fresh for this recipe)
 – 1/2 tsp salt
 – 1 1/2 tsp pepper
 – 1 cup olive oil

Salad

 – 6 cups of day old bread, cut into bite sized pieces (it says to remove crusts, but I don’t feel necessary – also use a nice bread for this)
 – 2 red peppers roasted* and sliced into wide strips
 – 2 yellow peppers roasted* and sliced into wide strips
 – 3 medium tomatoes, cut into wedges
 – 1/3 cup capers, rinsed
 – 4 anchovy fillets, chopped rough or whole (Optional, only if you like them)
 – 1/2 red onion, sliced into thin rings
 – 2 cups fresh mozzarella boccancini balls, medium size quartered (I used the small ones and left whole)

1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, for garnish

Method:

Combine all vinaigrette ingredients, except olive oil and blend in a food processor or blender.  Slowly stream in your olive oil in a steady stream until incorporated

Place bread pieces in a large salad bowl and toss with 1/2 cup of vinaigrette (I didn’t do mine this way but you can if you wish) Let it sit 20 minutes

Add your peppers, tomatoes, capers, anchovies (if using), red pinion and fresh mozza and toss gently/  Drizzle more vinaigrette (try not to drink it – seriously good) – toss and serve up with fresh basil leaves to garnish.

Really Really Good!

*To roast your peppers, place them whole on a hot barbecue, lid down and roast until skins are black and blistered.  Cool in a paper bag and slip skins off pepper while running under cold water – slice open and remove seeds and stems.

(or – I just do mine atop my gas stove placing the peppers directly on the flame turning with tongs until the skins are all nice and black – and if you don’t have a paper bag – place them in a bowl and cover with saran and let them sit for a bit and the steam will make the skins really easy to rub off)

Even if you don’t make this salad – make the dressing!  Trust me!!

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