MAKE THE CROUTONS
One loaf of good sourdough, day old is fine!
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Tear the loaf into large, bite-sized pieces. Using a big mixing bowl, toss the bread pieces with a generous amount of olive oil and salt. Spread the pieces out on a sheet pan in one layer and bake for 10 minutes. Rotate the pan and continue to bake until the croutons are dark brown/nearly black and crispy at the edges, but still have a tiny bit of chew at the center. **This recipe makes more than you need for the salad, but the leftover croutons will keep for several days in an airtight container.
Set aside and leave the oven on for the eggplant.
ROAST THE EGGPLANT
1 large Italian eggplant or 3 Japanese eggplants
Cut the eggplant into similarly sized pieces as the croutons. Toss generously in olive oil and salt and spread out on a sheet pan. Place on center rack and roast for 25-30 minutes or until soft and caramelized.
CHAR THE PEPPERS
2 or 3 sweet Italian peppers
Heat a comal or other flat griddle over medium-high heat. Arrange peppers over the hot surface. Rotate as needed until charred all over. Transfer to a bowl and then stem, seed and cut into large pieces.
1 pint Sungolds (or any cherry tomato of your choice)
1 quart torn, fresh bread (try to avoid crusts)
1/4 cup good vinegar
Crushed garlic clove
Salt to taste
Blend all ingredients in a blender or food processor until completely smooth.
ASSEMBLE THE SALAD
A few handfuls of Sungold tomatoes (or any cherry tomato of your choice)
Basil or mint leaves
Fresh ricotta or nut cheese
High-quality olive oil for drizzling (wonder valley!)
Toss the eggplant, peppers and sliced Sungolds with enough vinaigrette to coat everything well. Add a handful or two of croutons, and toss again. Add more vinaigrette as needed. Plate and garnish with torn mint leaves, a few spoonfuls of ricotta, chile flakes, and a drizzle of good olive oil.