This is the perfect use of half a leftover baguette from dinner the night before. Bring out the really good olive oil for this salad—it makes a difference. The croutons can be made several days in advance and stored at room temperature until ready to use. The peppers can also be roasted several days ahead of time; refrigerate until ready to serve.
- 6 cups day-old, rustic-style bread (such as baguette or Italian country bread), cut or torn into 1-inch pieces
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- ⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 red, green, or yellow bell peppers
- 2 beefsteak or heirloom tomatoes (about 1 pound), cut into 1-inch cubes
- 2 tablespoons minced red onion
- 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 cup fresh basil leaves, cut into thin strips
- 6 to 8 handfuls arugula
- ½ cup (2 ounces) crumbled goat cheese
Preheat the oven to 400ºF.
In a large bowl, season the bread cubes with salt and pepper and toss to mix. Drizzle with about 3 tablespoons of the olive oil and toss to coat. On a rimmed baking sheet, spread the bread evenly in a single layer and place it in the oven to toast about 10 minutes, until light golden brown. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
While the bread is toasting, roast the peppers over the open flame of a gas stove or under the broiler of the oven until charred all over, turning often, about 10 minutes. Place in a paper bag or a covered bowl to sweat and loosen the charred skin, about 10 minutes. Once cooled, slip the charred outside of the pepper off and discard the stem and seeds. Resist putting the peppers under water; this dilutes the flavor; instead, use a small knife to scrape off any small pieces of char left on the skin. Slice the peppers into strips and place in the bowl you tossed the bread in.
Add the croutons, tomatoes, onion, red wine vinegar, remaining olive oil, basil, salt, and pepper and toss gently to combine. Let the salad stand about 10 minutes so the juices can soak into and flavor the croutons. Right before serving, add the arugula and toss lightly to combine. Place the salad on a platter and top with the crumbled goat cheese and whole leaves or strips of fresh basil. Serve room temperature.