Spicy Panzanella Salad

Adapted from Leanne Brown


2 small or 1 large cucumber, peeled if using pickling cucumbers
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste
4 slices day-old bread
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus a few drops for the pan
1 medium jalapeño, finely chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste
Juice of 1 lime
Optional additions:
Chopped fresh herbs
Chopped peaches, nectarines, or plums
Finely chopped red onion
Chopped zucchini or summer squash, raw, grilled, or roasted
Pitted olives


Reserve about 2 tablespoons of the chopped tomatoes to use in the dressing, but throw the rest of the tomatoes and all of the cucumbers into a large bowl. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper; the salt helps draw out the juices. Toss and set aside.

To make the dressing: place a small saucepan over medium heat and add a few drops of olive oil. Add the jalapeño and sauté until it sizzles and smells good, about a minute, then add the rest of the chopped tomato and a tablespoon of water. Cook until the tomato juices release, another 2 minutes. Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Once the water has evaporated, turn off the heat and dump the jalapeño-tomato mixture on your cutting board. Chop it up very finely, then throw it back into the pan — with the heat off — with the lime juice and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Stir to combine, taste, and add salt and pepper as needed.

Chop or tear the bread into bite-sized pieces, then toast it in a skillet over medium heat, tossing occasionally, until the bread chunks are toasty on all sides. Alternatively, just toast full slices of bread in a toaster and tear them up afterward, or skip the toasting if the bread is already super hard.

Add the bread and dressing to the vegetables and stir to combine. Taste and adjust the salt and pepper once more. Let the salad sit for a few minutes so the bread can soak up the juices, then serve.