Saturday, March 21, 2009

Gastronomic Salad with Homemade Garlic Croutons

I don't know about you, but there are some days I just feel "icky". Sort of in the way when you've waddled out of a fast food joint and you smell sickeningly like grease. Or when you've been too greedy at a diner buffet. Or when you've been eating nothing but Twinkies and potato chips for three days. That sort of icky.

So when you're feeling icky, there's nothing better than to keep things light with lots of vegetables and fruits. I like to combine both in a salad with a light dressing - nothing creamy or thick, just a garlicky dressing with olive oil and wine. To make it more satisfying for dinner, I usually add my own homemade croutons (less oil/butter than store bought ones) and some form of meat.

La Panzanella (it's a Seattle institution and the bread and crackers are beyond superb) at the Farmers' Market had a really splendid loaf of focaccia today and I thought it would be good to make some garlic croutons and toss it with one of my favourite Konosur concoctions. The recipe combines spring greens (butterhead lettuce and a herb salad mix), prosciutto and blood oranges to make it a seasonal salad that help rids the "ickyness" of having eaten badly for the past week. It makes a satisfying dinner and is complemented well with a glass of 2007 Sauvignon Blanc from California (Try 2007 Vintage Bogle for a good, cheap Sauvignon Blanc under $10).

Gastronomic Salad with Homemade Garlic Croutons
Serves 4

1/2 loaf foccacia bread, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic
Salt and pepper
2 tbsp orange juice
2 tbsp white wine
2 cups butterhead lettuce, torn
1 cup herb salad mix (combination of arugula, dill, tarragon, parsley and endive)
1 large blood orange, peel removed and sliced
3 slices prosciutto, sliced into strips
2 tsp fresh rosemary, roughly chopped
1/4 cup sweetened, dried cranberries
2 tbsp roughly chopped pistachios

Preheat oven to 325°F.

To make croutons, combine cubed bread, two tablespoons olive oil, rosemary and 3/4 of the minced garlic in a large bowl. Season with a little salt and pepper. Toss well to mix all the ingredients together. Spread out on a baking sheet lined with foil. Toast in the preheated oven for 10 minutes, stir with a spatula and toast for another 10 minutes until croutons are crunchy and golden brown. Set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, make the dressing by combining the remaining 2 tbsp of olive oil, remaining mince garlic, orange juice, white wine and dash of pepper in a small bowl. Whisk and set aside.

Assemble the salad: On a large platter, arrange the salad leaves, sliced orange and sliced prosciutto. Scatter the cranberries and pistachios over the top. Drizzle with the dressing. Toss everything together and serve with croutons on top.


Simones Kitchen said...

That is a lovely salad you have made here and looks perfect for me right now (having not eaten too properly the past week!!) Love your photography too!

Kirby! said...

This salad looks awesome... I love citrus and herb salads because they are totally refreshing. And blood oranges are my new love in the fruit aisle!!

I go through the "icky" feeling every few weeks. Kids at my school will convince their teachers to have parties for every possible reason, which results in them bringing cupcakes/Doritos/cookies/Cheetos/crapppycrapcrap on a constant basis. I should avoid it, but it gets hard....