You may have noticed that when you mention ‘summer’ to us San Franciscans, we like nothing more than to complain about how our summers are freezing. Woe to us who have to live with foggy, misty days and frigid, windy nights! This summer, though, we’ve been getting more than our fair share of sweaty summer days so we (at least, I) haven’t been complaining as much. At first glance, it’s pretty awesome to not have to bundle up in sweaters in the middle of July and actually be able to wear those cute summer skirts hiding in the closet. But then when you realize the randomly hot and dry weather is literally burning up our state, being able to wear cute summer skirts hardly seems worth it.

Honestly, who needs really hot weather when there are plenty of other signs of summer around us? I’m talking, of course, about those summer fruits and vegetables! These days, even a salad quickly turns into a hugely colorful affair, because who can resist throwing in handfuls of sweet corn, green beans, and radishes? And I, for one, cannot bear to let our apartment be tomato-free even for a day. Oh, and we mustn’t forget the giant piles of berries, peaches, and apricots practically begging to be eaten! Speaking of which, I need to finish this entry stat because there’s a bowl of Royal Blenheim apricots calling my name.

This bread salad (call it ‘Panzanella’ to impress your friends or if you’re Alex Trebek) is one of the simplest, easiest, and summer-iest salads ever. And the extra good news? It lets you use that stale half-loaf of bread that’s been hanging out in your kitchen for days!

crusty bread, preferably very stale
2-3 medium tomatoes, chopped
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
1 cup loosely packed basil leaves, torn or coarsely chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tbsp red-wine vinegar

Either slice the bread or rip into chunks. In a large bowl, soak bread in cold water to cover 10 minutes. While waiting, prepare the rest of the vegetables.

Working with a handful at a time, squeeze as much water as possible from bread and coarsely crumble into a serving bowl (you should have about 4 cups).

Add tomatoes, onion, and basil, then drizzle with oil and vinegar and gently toss to mix.

Season with salt and pepper and toss well.

(Makes enough for a light supper for 2)