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 classic salad has come a long way because its 1924 invention by Caesar Cardini at his Tijuana restaurant. It’s now found on virtually every menu in the country at home and in restaurants. Because there are as many ways to make it as there are cooks, I don’t spend a lot of time worrying about authenticity, just flavour. My version includes the wonderfully aromatic addition of whole basil leaves.
One of the best ways to add flavour to any ingredient is to roast it, especially the humble potato. That simple twist elevates this classic salad into something memorable. Add in the sharp flavours of capers, mustard and vinegar, and you’ll have a new family classic.