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Saturday, July 21, 2012

Croutons

A day doesn't go by where I don't eat a salad. Some days, I will eat salad for lunch and one for dinner. Green salad, grilled shrimp salad, old fashioned lettuce wedge, grilled chicken salad, taco salad, and many others too numerous to mention. We had salad every night for dinner when I was a child and the tradition continues.  How one of my sons doesn't like salad, I don't understand, but that's ok!  Salad is a comfort food for me, especially with olive oil, vinegar, and lemon as a dressing. I had to acquire a taste for creamy Italian and Ranch style dressings over the years.  It was Greek salad dressing every night without fail when I was a child.  That's still my favorite.   Hot summers in Georgia are just made for the enjoyment of salad.  We have the local farmers market to purchase home grown tomatoes and cucumbers which really make the salad extra delicious.  It's amazing how a garden tomato can taste so differently from those purchased in the grocery store.  Salad and bread are a great combo.  Being of Greek heritage, one naturally doesn't want the lovely olive oil dressing to sit in the bottom of the bowl.  Yes, I'm heavy handed with the dressing as I like to dip hearty bread into it after finishing my salad.  That's called rustic eating at its finest!  I love any kind of bread, but especially hearty bread like a chewy ciabatta , French, or Italian bread when I have salad.  I have no less than 4 kinds of bread at my house at any given moment (right now it's pumpernickel, pumpernickel rye, croissants, ciabatta, and whole grain wheat... in case you were wondering). Since there are usually only two of us here, and I eat more bread than anyone, it sometimes gets a little stale.  When I made my salad the other day, I saw some ciabatta  bread that was one day past prime for eating without heating.  I cut off some of the crust, (who doesn't like crust? ... apparently most children I see as a table monitor during lunch at an elementary school), cut the bread into cubes, and gently saute until golden brown.  I like to cut the bread into substantial size cubes so they can be individual bites, not a minuscule cube.  A lot of packages of ready made croutons can be purchased at the store.  Seriously, how difficult can it be to cut bread and saute it in some oil or butter? The homemade ones are so much better.  I'm not going to post a recipe for croutons because YOU CAN DO THIS WITHOUT ONE! Even people who don't think they can cook without a recipe can make toast! Right? That's what it is basically... just toast.  Put a little olive oil, butter, or a mixture of both in a frying pan (my preferred method) and saute over low heat until golden brown.  Cut the bread into cubes, drizzle with olive oil and gently saute.  I'm sure you could bake the pieces in the oven too... I just like frying things. You can put a fresh garlic clove in the butter after it has melted and stir it around until the flavor is infused, or chop it and add it at the last minute.  I've also been known to add lemon pepper seasoning too.  Plenty of sea salt and freshly ground pepper finish off the croutons.  It makes an every day green salad just jump for joy!  Once you make them yourself, you will never (yes- never) purchase them at the store.

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Ingredients I must have in my kitchen (It's a long list, but I try and have these items on hand)

  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Cheese
  • Cumin
  • Curry
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Fresh Bread
  • Fresh Cilantro
  • Fresh Fruit
  • Fresh Garlic
  • Fresh Parsley
  • Greek Oregano
  • Kalamata Olives
  • Lemon ( At least 3 or 4 ALWAYS)
  • Peppers (Wax, Jalapeno, banana)
  • Red Wine Vinegar
  • Regular Olive Oil
  • Rice
  • Salad Ingredients
  • Sea Salt
  • Spanish Olives
  • White Balsamic Vinegar
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