Finally, the last of the French bread. But I suppose there will be a next time. This loaf lasted so long because it was so hard and dry. There was no chance mold could survive. (Unlike the Italian loaf around here). This recipe is a panzanella style salad. Panzanella is Italian for soggy croutons. Not really. I don't think anyway. Soggy croutons is the common denominator in this recipe and authentic panzanella.
Panzanella Style Salad
12 ounces 2-3 day old French bread or other country white style, cut into 2-inch slices (or whatever you can break it into)
Your favorite oil and vinegar style dressing
5 c. packed cups of romaine lettuce
2 large ripe tomatoes, diced
Preheat oven to 400. Place bread slices on baking sheet and toast until crisp. Cool. (My bread was so dry I didn't have to do this). Cut or tear into 1-inch cubes.
Place bread in medium bowl. Add enough warm water to cover bread. Let stand until bread is just semisoft, about 1 minute. Squeeze bread gently to release excess water. Transfer bread to large bowl. Add 1/3 to 1/2 c. of your favorite dressing. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Let stand at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hour.
Mix lettuce and tomatoes into bread mixture. Sprinkle with basil. Pour 1/3 to 1/2 c. dressing over salad and toss to blend.