Open a Spaniard’s kitchen cabinets and you will find a number of jarred and canned foods that are used consistently to prepare quick tapas (small meals), or added as a part of a traditional Meditteranean recipe. These might include, cooked chickpeas, pimientos (red peppers), with or without onion, chillis, garlic; cooked kale (!) in a tall jar, a variety of canned fish, such as, tuna, sardines and maroc; green peas, artichokes, and tomatoes juiced, diced, sauced, well you get the idea.

Looking to expand on a Tuscan tomato bread salad I make during the summer months, I rifled through cabinets looking for typical Spanish ingredients to help take the dish to another level in taste and nutritional value. What evolved is a big, jumbly mess of a salad, but oh, so tasty. My Spanish hosts were very pleased with the use of the traditional ingredients and suggested this salad will make a great meal to take as lunch for next day’s work.

A few notes before you get started preparing this recipe.

1. The dressing is an important piece of bread salads as it is absorbed by the bread and not just used to coat the ingredients. I like mine tart and strong, but you may be inclined towards just a hint of vinegar, so adapt to your palette. For this recipe I diluted the heavy Balsamic vinegar with white wine, which turned out to be a rather brilliant idea, if I do say so myself.

2. Use ripe, juicy tomatoes. Cut each tomato in half; place a strainer over a large measuring cup and squeeze the tomatoes over the strainer. This will filter the juice, to which you will now add the remaining dressing ingredients.

3. When done and dressing has been added to the tomato-bread mixture, allow the salad to sit for 20-30 minutes. You can go longer, but timing can depend on the dryness of the bread you are using.

4. I added chickpeas as a protein source, but feel free to substitute tuna or a white bean instead.

Tomato Bread Salad a la Espana

5 cups day (or longer) old bread, cubed * 7 ripe tomatoes * 1/2 spring or sweet onion, diced * 1 small can pimiento red peppers, rinsed * 1 can small artichokes, rinsed and quartered * 1 small can chickpeas, rinsed/drained

Dressing: 1/4 cup EV olive oil * juice of the fresh tomatoes * 3 tablespoons balsamic or red wine vinegar * 1/4 cup dry white wine * 1 teaspoon dried thyme * 2 cloves garlic, minced * sea salt to taste