The Prettiest Summer Salad Ever

On Sunday we were invited to the St. Louis Food Bloggers’ potluck graciously hosted by Stef at The Cupcake Project. I was a bit intimidated as to what to make when preparing something for such an illustrious group of foodies. I saw from the evite that a number of bloggers had signed up for appetizers, something I do well but didn’t want to be redundant, and (luckily) a number of desserts were already spoken for, which is not something that particularly interests me nor is it a culinary strength of mine. I correctly surmised this group would appreciate fresh and local with the variety of good produce in season. Cucumbers, red onions, the first heirloom tomatoes, green peppers. The makings of gazpacho, which is one of my favorite things to eat when it’s SOOOOO hot. But only this time of the year when ingredients are FRESH. However, I was uncertain about dining logistics, so I was skeptical about soup, but what about a gazpacho salad? Good idea.
This was a stunning salad. The vibrant colors and simple freshness shouted “SUMMER!” I was able to use all local vegetables, except for the colored peppers, and some of the tomatoes, the banana peppers, and the basil were from our garden. Even the croutons were “local”, made from Companion’s French Baguette. Definitely do not skip making the croutons. They add a contrasting crunch to the veggies when first added to the salad and are divine once they soak up the peppery dressing. The method for preparing the croutons is far easier than baking croutons, which I inevitably burn. We typically always add cheese to salads, but Craig commented it’s not needed. Now that speaks volumes for this winner. The only downside is that gazpacho is much faster to prepare since I typically throw all the ingredients in the food processor. To make the salad, you do a lot of chopping, but a small price to pay for such deliciousness.

Gazpacho Salad
Based on a recipe sourced from Smitten Kitchen
Generously serves 4

2 tablespoons good olive oil
4 cups French bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
Garlic salt to taste
3 large ripe tomatoes, preferably heirloom, cut into bite-size pieces
1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded, and sliced 1/2 inch thick
1 small green bell pepper, seeded and cut into bite-size pieces
1 small red bell pepper, seeded and cut into bite-size pieces
1 small orange bell pepper, seeded and cut into bite-size pieces
2 banana peppers, seeded and cut into bite-size pieces
1/2 red onion, cut in half and finely chopped
1/2 cup basil, coarsely chopped
For the vinaigrette:
1 teaspoon finely minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1/3 cup good olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oil in a large saute pan. Add the bread and salt; cook over low to medium heat, tossing frequently, for 10 minutes, or until nicely browned. Add more oil as needed.

For the vinaigrette, whisk together the ingredients.

In a large bowl, mix the tomatoes, cucumber, peppers, red onion, and basil. Add the bread cubes and toss with the vinaigrette. Season liberally with salt and pepper.

Serve immediately, or allow the salad to sit for about half an hour for the flavors to blend.

1 comment:

  1. It was delicious! So good to see you, Denise!



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