Time 30 minutes
Yields Serves 6 to 8
(Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times)

Trim the crusts from the loaf and cut the bread in 1-inch cubes, arrange them on a baking sheet and bake in a low oven until they are crisp to the touch, about 1 hour. If the loaf is already stale, just cut in cubes.


Trim the ends from the cucumbers, cut them in half lengthwise and use the tip of a small spoon to scoop the seeds from the center. Cut in 1/2-inch half-moons and place in a strainer. Toss with 1 teaspoon salt and leave to drain for 30 minutes.


Cut the onion in 1/4-inch half-moons and place in a bowl of cold water to cover to stand for 30 minutes.


In a small bowl, combine the anchovies, garlic and capers and stir roughly with a spoon to make a chunky paste. Gradually stir in the vinegar and set aside.


Place the dried bread cubes in a colander and rinse under running water. They should be moistened but not soaked. Shake vigorously to remove any excess water.


Transfer the moistened bread cubes to a large bowl. Add the tomatoes and the drained red onion. Rinse the cucumbers until they no longer taste salty, pat dry and add to the bowl.


Briskly stir the vinegar-anchovy-caper mixture, slowly adding the olive oil to make a coarse, chunky vinaigrette. Pour over the bread mixture and toss to combine. Set aside for at least 30 minutes. The dish can be prepared to this point a couple of hours in advance and refrigerated tightly covered.


Bring to room temperature, then just before serving fold in the basil and serve.

Russ Parsons is a former food writer and columnist at the Los Angeles Times.
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