Light, crisp salad greens, fresh vegetables, and a tangy, well balanced dressing tastefully completes any meal. Skip the store bought croutons and impress your table with this homemade version. Chewy on the inside while irresistibly crisp on the outside, these croutons bake in the oven while you get the rest of the ingredients ready. Finish by adorning this versatile salad with unbeatable crunch.
Yield: Makes 6 servings
For the croutons
1 whole baguette, cut into 1″ cubes
1/4 cup (60 mL) of water
1/4 cup (60 mL) of extra virgin olive oil
For the dressing
1 cup (250 mL) of extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon (15 mL) of Dijon mustard
1/2 cup (125 mL) of honey or maple syrup
1/2 cup (125 mL) of red wine vinegar
For the salad
10-12 oz (280-340 g) of your favourite salad greens
1 handful of any sprouts
1 carrot, shredded
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1 bunch of fresh basil leaves, or any other fresh leafy herb
Begin with the croutons. Preheat your oven to 375ºF (190ºC). Sprinkle the baguette with water and toss briefly to allow the water to absorb evenly. Drizzle the olive oil over top and mix to coat. Scatter the baguette cubes on a baking tray and toast in the oven until golden brown and crisp, 15 to 20 minutes. The water will keep the interior chewy while the oil crisps the outside.
Next, craft the dressing. Place the olive oil, Dijon mustard, honey or maple syrup and vinegar in a large jar, seal tightly and shake vigorously until smoothly combined.
Finally, make the salad. Toss all salad greens, sprouts, carrots, red onion and herbs. Drizzle a few spoonfuls of the dressing onto the salad, just enough to lightly coat the works. (Save the leftover dressing in the refrigerator for next time.) Quickly and gently toss the salad until it’s evenly combined. Top with the croutons, serve and share.
© Chef Michael Smith
This is my favourite way to toss together the amazing flavours of a Niçoise salad and skip the traditional fussy arrangement of the ingredients. My kids aren’t big fans of visible anchovies and don’t know that they’re hidden in the powerfully flavoured dressing loaded with tangy lemon, bright parsley and aromatic basil. They just know they love this salad and I love that it’s a whole meal in a bowl!