Tomato and Bread Salad

In good news, red, ripe and awesome tomatoes are already here in Swakopmund, Namibia! You can buy them from a one woman farm stall right in the centre of town. If you’re ever here(!), you should check her out. She’s great.
In bad news, I baked a really crappy loaf of bread on Tuesday. So flat, so doughy on the inside that it got mistaken for Turkish bread. In an effort to negate some of its crappiness, I toasted some of it up to have in a salad with some fine Namibian tomatoes. See below. 

So it looks a bit panzanella-ish, I know, but it’s not panzanella. I do like panzanella but I’m not crazy about the soggy, bread porridge kind of way it’s eaten in central Italy. So I make it with crunchy bread a bit like fattoush and I prefer it. I also like to leave the skin on the cucumbers(for texture and health!) and throw in lots of herbs. But the thing that really pulls the whole lot together is the dressing. You let the garlic, vinegar and salt infuse for a while, which gives everything just the right amount of garlicky punch.  If you’ve not tried this way of dressing tomatoes, I really recommend you do. This summer. When good tomatoes come to your town.

Crunchy Tomato Salad
In the picture, this has spring onion but the recipe says red. I prefer red but there was no good ones available, so I used spring.  You could do the same!
2 slices of bread(ciabatta, any good white or flopped homemade)
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Salt and pepper
2 crushed cloves of garlic
1 tsp salt
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
4-5 strictly awesome tomatoes (400g)
1/2 a big cucumber (or 1 small)
1/2 red onion or two spring onions, sliced
1/2 a cup of fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 a cup of fresh mint, chopped

1. Preheat the oven to 190C. Chop the garlic finely and place in a small bowl with one teaspoon of salt. Pour the vinegar over and allow to steep for at least 20 minutes or up to 2 hours.
2. When the oven’s ready, put the bread pieces on a tray, drizzle over one tablespoon of the olive oil, salt and pepper and bake for 10 -15 minutes. You want them slightly browned.

2. Meanwhile, cut the tomatoes and cucumbers into bite sized pieces(I like this quite chunky) and place in a salad bowl with the onion. Season with salt (go easy on the salt though, because there’s quite a bit in the dressing) and pepper, set aside.

4. When the vinegar is done infusing, strain the mixture over the vegetables and discard the garlic. Pour the rest of the olive oil over. Add half the parsley, half the mint and all of the bread. Check the seasoning and make sure there’s enough oil for the bread to get a little moist. Then let it sit for 5-10 minutes for the flavours to develop. I like it best after ten, when the bread has taken on some of the salad flavours but it’s still got a bit of crunch. Finish with the rest of the herbs then serve.

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