Home on the Range
January 15, 2012
Waste is bad. I know. It's wasteful, it's bad for the environment and it's bad for the soul. People who waste are bad. I know this because it's a lesson my mom teaches, ceaselessly.
Do not recycle that cardboard tube; save it for an art project. Do not uproot that wayward seedling; transplant it. Do not throw out that tablespoon of yogurt; wrap it and freeze it and stir it into a sauce, later. Perhaps years later.
Such thrifty household management is surely right. And yet, I resist. I like to bundle up yesterday's news. Clean slate, fresh start and all. I find perverse satisfaction in straightening up, cleaning out, organizing. And the corollary: tossing.
There may be people who manage both — to waste not and clutter not. But I think there's only one: Mom.
I try. I have a closetful of cardboard tubes awaiting the craft project. I have a frozen stash of leek greens, awaiting soup duty. And when faced with old bread or cold weather, I make bread salad.
Not that Mom would approve. Tomatoes aren't in season. Cucumbers aren't in season. Imagine if she knew that sometimes I make day-old bread salad with (don't look, Mom!) fresh bread.
Prep: 30 minutes
Bake: 15 minutes
2 pints grape tomatoes, at room temperature, halved on the diagonal
1 cucumber, halved the long way and sliced crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick half-moons
1 yellow or orange bell pepper, chopped into 1/2-inch squares
1 roasted red pepper, sliced into thin strips
2 tablespoon finely chopped red onion
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
6 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil leaves
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 pound Italian "country" bread (or French boule), fresh or day-old, cut or torn into 1-inch cubes
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1/8 teaspoon coarse salt
In a large bowl, toss tomatoes, cucumber, bell pepper, roasted pepper, red onion, chopped garlic, vinegar, oil, basil and salt. Let rest while preparing bread.
On a rimmed baking sheet, toss bread, oil, sliced garlic and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Slide into a 350-degree oven and toast, shaking pan once or twice, until bread is crisp and golden, about 15 minutes.
Scrape bread mixture onto tomato mixture. Toss gently. Enjoy.
Leah Eskin is a Tribune special contributor e-mail her at email@example.com
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