This is my reality right now:
(1) The garden, which Husband planted and maintained during my pregnancy this summer, is overflowing with gorgeous ripe tomatoes and tiny but flavorful red and yellow onions.
(2) My eyes always seem to be bigger than my stomach, and I purchase more delicious crusty bakery bread than we can eat before it gets stale.
(3) I like to cook with things I have on hand, things which will go bad otherwise. It makes me feel frugal, and wise, and enterprising.
(4) I don't have a hell of a lot of time to cook at this very moment.
You can imagine my pleasure, then, when it occurred to me that I could make a very quick and very delicious dinner using nothing more than our tomatoes, our onions, our back porch basil and that half-loaf of rustic bread that's been sitting on the counter since last Friday. It hit on all four of my current realities beautifully: made entirely of produce we grew ourselves (I say "we;" I should say "Husband"), a way to tastily salvage the stale bread and use ingredients on hand and, finally, fast. I made it while the baby slept, nary a peep escaping his teeny lips before the meal was complete.
Now if I had made this salad using a loaf of my own home-baked bread, my head might have exploded. But I'll have to save that thrill for another time.
TOMATO AND BREAD SALAD WITH RICOTTA
Adapted from Everyday Food magazine
I could call this "panzanella," but I am not full-time fancy.
Half a loaf of day-old crusty bread (about 1/2 lb.), cubed into large chunks
About 2 lbs. of fresh tomatoes, cubed into large chunks
1/2 a large (or 1 small) red onion, sliced thinly
3 T. red wine vinegar
3 T. olive oil, plus more for drizzling
Sea salt, to taste
Freshly-cracked black pepper, to taste
1 c. fresh basil leaves, torn or chopped roughly
15 oz. ricotta cheese
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the bread cubes on a baking sheet (with NO oil) and bake until browned, 15-20 minutes. Set aside.
In a large bowl, combine the tomatoes, onion, vinegar, oil and salt and pepper to taste. When the bread has cooled, add it to the tomato mixture along with the basil. Stir to combine, then let sit for about 15 minutes to allow the tomato juices to soften the hard bread cubes.
Serve with a few spoonfuls of ricotta cheese, a drizzle of olive oil and a little more salt and pepper to taste.
Previously, on A Stove With A House Around It:
One year ago: I was eating damper bread with golden syrup in the Northern Territory
Two years ago: roasted tomato marinara