Panzanella

Yields about 6 cups.

4 slices boule or pain de campagne, about ½-inch thick, or about 8 oz.
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 small shallot, sliced into thin rings
3 T red-wine vinegar
1 small clove garlic, coarsely chopped
1½ lb. ripe, meaty tomatoes, cut into ½-inch dice (about 3½ cups)
1 cucumber, seeded and cut into ½-inch dice (about 1½ cups)
3 T chopped fresh basil
3 T chopped fresh mint
2 T capers

Brush the bread with 1/4 cup of the oil and season it with 1/4 tsp. salt and a few grinds of pepper. Grill the bread on both sides over hot coals, checking frequently, until nicely browned, 3 to 4 min. per side, or broil in the oven. When the bread is cool enough to handle, cut it into ½ -inch cubes. In a large bowl, combine shallots, vinegar and garlic; season with salt and pepper; whisk in remaining olive oil. Add chopped vegetables and herbs and combine. Toss the bread cubes in last; season to taste. Drizzle with olive oil, top with a sprinkling of coarse salt and fresh ground pepper; garnish with whole basil leaves and serve immediately. Panzenella can be made in advance, reserving the bread cubes until just before serving.

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