Tomato, fennel, fresh garbanzo and olive bread salad

Time 30 minutes
Yields Serves 4 as a side dish
Tomato, fennel, fresh garbanzo and olive bread salad
(Los Angeles Times)

Chop the tomatoes and fennel into medium dice and place in a mixing bowl. Add the onion. Strip the leaves from 2 of the basil sprigs and add to the bowl. Add the salt, a few grinds of pepper and the fennel pollen, if using. Gently stir to combine.


Smash 1 of the garlic cloves in a mortar and pestle or mince very fine. Add to the mixture. Add 1 tablespoon vinegar and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Gently stir the ingredients together and let stand at room temperature about 1 to 2 hours. (This marinating time will break down the vegetables and marry the flavors.)


If using fresh garbanzos in their shell, shuck the beans from the outer pod while the mixture marinates. Garbanzos are similar to peas except there are only one or two beans in each pod. When finished shelling, bring a small saucepan of water to boil. Add salt, drop in the beans and cook 4 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and place in a bowl filled with ice-cold water to stop the cooking. Remove and drain. Add the drained cooked beans to the salad.


Brush the olive bread with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Grill the bread or toast it in the oven until crisp and golden. The bread should be a bit hard, as it will soften when it is added to the salad. Rub each slice with the remaining clove of garlic.


The recipe can be done to this point several hours ahead of time and set aside until you are ready to serve. At serving time break 2 of the toasted bread slices into 1- to 1 1/2 - inch pieces and place in a large bowl. Add the leaves from the remaining sprig of basil, the remaining 1 tablespoon vinegar and the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add the cherry tomatoes and feta and check the seasoning. The salad should be wet and juicy; depending on the acidity of the tomatoes or your taste, you may need to add more olive oil or vinegar.


Place the remaining slices of toasted bread on a plate and spoon the mixture over them, making sure the juices run onto the plate.

From chef Chris Kidder of Literati II in West L.A. Kidder likes to serve the salad with grilled meats or fish. Dried fennel pollen is available at farmers markets.

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