This comes from Cook’s Country and I am making the difficulty moderate since you make your own croutons, don’t be tempted to use store bought! I made this for a BBQ and it was a nice change from the usual salad fare. Crisp bread croutons, basil pesto, creamy white beans and fresh tomatoes are wonderful! And it is easy and satisfying. It can serve as a side or a main dish with some grilled chicken. Yum.
2 cups 1-inch cubes Italian bread
1/2 cup olive oil
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1 (14-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 medium cucumber , peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded, and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 medium shallot, minced
1/2 cup pesto
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
Table salt and ground black pepper
2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh basil
Directions: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat to 375 degrees. Toss bread cubes with 1/4 cup olive oil on rimmed baking sheet. Spread bread cubes on pan and bake until golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes, shaking pan halfway through to prevent bread from sticking. Remove from oven and cool completely. (Bread cubes can be stored in zipper-lock bag for one or two days.)
Meanwhile, mix tomatoes, beans, cucumber, and shallot in large bowl. Whisk pesto, vinegar, and remaining 1/4 cup oil together in small bowl, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle pesto dressing over vegetables, toss well, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
Ten minutes before serving, add bread cubes to vegetables and toss well. Transfer to serving bowl and sprinkle basil on top. Serve.