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- 1 shallot, finely chopped
- 3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 4 peaches, ripe but firm
- 1 English cucumber
- 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, gently torn
- 2 sprigs fresh tarragon leaves, stem removed
- 2 sprigs fresh mint leaves, gently torn
- 1/2 pint (about 2 cups) fresh blackberries
- 4 cups cubed bread (nice loaf like French or ciabatta)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Kosher salt and fresh pepper
- Edible flowers such as pansies or nasturtium, for garnish
The ideal side dish for a vibrant picnic spread, bread salad is a mixture of fresh vegetables and/or fruit with fresh, homemade croutons that soak up all the good flavors. This one can be made into a main event by topping it over a bed of fresh arugula and adding some nice goat cheese. The blackberries, juicy cucumber, sweet peach and summer herbs like basil and mint are a heavenly combination that shines in the warm months.
Make the vinaigrette:
In a small bowl, add the shallots and vinegar. Let macerate for 15 minutes to soften. Whisk in the olive oil. Add a few cracks of fresh pepper.
Make the croutons:
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet, preferably cast iron, over medium heat. Toss in the bread cubes and toast, frequently shaking the pan, until the bread is golden on all sides, about 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, then transfer toasted bread to a large mixing bowl. Set aside.
Prepare the fruit and vegetables:
Halve and pit the peaches, then slice into 1/2-inch wedges. Slice cucumber in halve, lengthwise, then using a spoon, remove the seeds and slice into 1/4-inch half-moons. Add peaches and cucumbers to a bowl of toasted bread. Top with the vinaigrette and toss to coat. Let sit for 10 minutes, then add the herbs and blackberries and gently toss. Garnish with edible flowers.