Italian Bread Salad with Tangy Basil Vinaigrette

I always associate this one with potlucks. Maybe that’s because I have so many vivid memories of people, in said potluck setting, raving about this salad. However, be warned—it makes no excuses for its totally bold, intense flavor! Anyway, a salad giving you excuses would be pathetic and just a little creepy.

Note: If you need some extra help planning your Thanksgiving meal this year, I've created a ten-course menu (the same one I'm using!), complete with recipes, a shopping list, and a timetable checklist to take the stress out of your holiday!!! You'll also receive the telecall link, so you can listen to the workshop, as an extra bonus! Click here for the deets. : )

Italian Bread Salad
Recipe from Radiant Health, Inner Wealth

8 oz. loaf of slightly stale crusty sourdough bread, cut into cubes (6 cups of bread cubes)*

Deliriously Delectable Dressing:
4 large cloves garlic, peeled
⅓ cup (tightly packed) fresh basil leaves
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
⅓ cup non-virgin olive oil (or additional extra-virgin olive oil if you prefer)
⅓ cup red wine vinegar
¾ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

Salad Stuff:
½ lb. red leaf or romaine lettuce (one medium sized head)
One medium-large cucumber, very thinly sliced
One small red onion, very thinly sliced
Three Roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped
¼ cup kalamata olives, pitted and chopped in half

1. *Cut or tear the bread into bite sized cubes or pieces. You should end up with six cups of bread cubes. Allow them to sit overnight in a partially open bag. The purpose of this is to make the bread slightly stale so that it does not become soggy when the dressing is added to the salad. Of course, if you already have stale bread, you can pretend like this step never happened.

2. Place the garlic, basil, and a little of the olive oil in a blender. Blend on low to emulsify the ingredients. Add the remaining olive oil and other dressing ingredients and blend on high for a minute or so, until very smooth and thick.

3. Wash the lettuce. Dry it with paper towels or in a salad spinner to remove all of the excess water. This step is important, as too much water on the lettuce will dilute the dressing. Prepare the other vegetables at this point as well.

4. Put the bread cubes in the largest bowl you can get your hands on. Place the lettuce, cucumber, onion, tomatoes, and olives on top of the bread. Pour all of the dressing on top, making sure to get every last drop with a rubber spatula. Using the same spatula, stir the salad very well to mix the dressing evenly.

5. Cover the salad bowl and refrigerate it for an hour or so. This will allow the dressing time to work its magic. Stir again and serve, either at room temperature or chilled. Enjoy having the most popular item at the potluck! You will never live this down.

Serves about 6; 30 minutes or under! (with slightly stale bread) SF/Purple (according to the health guidelines in my books and Be Radiant program)