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Arugula and Bread Salad on Tomato Carpaccio

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(Serves 4)

1/2 loaf good crusty bread
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh sage, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
2 large vine-ripened tomatoes (mix colors for added appeal)
1/2 cup tomato vinaigrette, divided (recipe follows)
1 tablespoon fresh Parmesan, grated
2 cups arugula, washed

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. With a serrated knife, remove the crust from the bread and cut loaf into 1/4-inch cubes (about 3 cups). Melt butter in a sauté pan over medium-high heat, cooking just until the butter begins to brown. Add garlic and sauté about 30 seconds. Add bread cubes, sage, and salt and pepper and toss to coat evenly.

Transfer cubes to cookie sheet in a single layer, keeping them close together. Bake approximately 10 minutes, moving them around often. Do not cook croutons all the way through. The outside should be crispy while the inside remains chewy. Set aside.

Slice tomatoes as thin as possible. Divide and arrange in overlapping circles on 4 plates. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Just before serving, toss the croutons with 1/4 cup of vinaigrette and Parmesan cheese. Mound bread mixture on top of the tomato slices. Toss arugula with remaining vinaigrette. Sprinkle leaves around the tomato slices.

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