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This is an alternative use for a freshly baked loaf. The French love their bread but this is not just an accompaniment to the meal, it’s going to be the meal. It’s a take on a sandwich from the South of France called a ‘pain bagnard,’ which is a big roll, sodden with olive oil and filled with lovely summer vegetables. I am going to make it with three different sorts of tomatoes, so if it’s not the summer time, you can heighten the flavour of it by roasting some with balsamic vinegar and sugar and then using some sun dried tomatoes.
When we make the salad, we make it inside the bread and we use the centre we take out of the loaf to make croutons, which gives the salad a nice crunch. Cut of a lid and cut out the inside, leaving a little bit of bread around the loaf to soak up the vinaigrette that is going to go in.
When you make the croutons, don’t chop up the garlic, because you don't want the taste too strong, but peel it and halve it before putting it into gently sizzling oil. Make the crouton nice and crunchy and add them to the pan. If you feel they are drying out, add more oil, that’s what this dish is all about. Cook them until they are nice and golden. Leave the pan to let them cool down.
Now chop up the rest of the ingredients for the salad. Apart from the tomatoes, I add a yellow pepper for its colour and then I mix them with some wild rocket and a few of the sundried tomatoes. Finally add the slow-roasted tomatoes, some black pepper, salt and a little basil. Give it a quick stir with the croutons and then into the loaf. Pour a little more olive oil into it and put the lid back on. Leave it for about half an hour to let the juices soak into the loaf.
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