This is a crowd pleaser. And you can do all the hard stuff ahead of time, so you're not fussing when your guests are around, drinking and munching and socializing. You can drink, munch and socialize too! They'll love it - as a friend of ours said the other night, "bread salad is an uncommon, but welcome offering." It's one of those simple yet delicious menu items that makes people happy - why wouldn't you want to make it?
Tomato Bread Salad with Cannellini Beans and Feta (adapted from The Beekman Heirloom Cookbook)8 oz. country bread, cut into 1-inch chunks 5 T. extra-virgin olive oil 1 lb. assorted heirloom tomatoes, but into 1-inch chunks (if you have varying colors, it'll be extra pretty) 3/4 t. Kosher salt 1/4 c. pine nuts (beware pine nuts from China, they can give you "pine mouth" - a bitter taste in your mouth for weeks!) 1 (15-oz.) can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained (remember, Eden Organics has no BPA) 2 T. red wine vinegar 1/3 c. fresh basil leaves, torn 8 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
Preheat oven to 400°F. Place the bread cubes on a large rimmed cookie sheet and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the oil. Bake for approximately 10 minutes, or until lightly browned and crisp, tossing the bread chunks after about 5 minutes of baking. Transfer to a large bowl to cool.
Add the tomatoes to the bread, sprinkle with the salt, and toss to combine. Let stand 20 minutes.
In a small, ungreased skillet, toast the pine nuts over low heat, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate to cool.
Add the beans, vinegar, basil, nuts and remaining 3 tablespoons of oil to the bowl with the bread and tomatoes and toss to combine. Add the cheese and toss again, gently.
Serves 4 generously.