Spice up your Salads

 

I was going to do a post on Citrus Roasted Chicken, but I couldn’t face even writing about roasting. It is so hot here in St. Louis that it feels like we could roast things in the sun – no oven needed. I will post on the chicken soon, as it was really good, but not today. I know there are parts of the world that aren’t sweltering in record heat, but those of you there will just have to wait to get the chicken recipe.

We eat lots of salads in the summer, as most people do. It makes sense – abundant produce and the need to keep the kitchen cool. But it can get kind of hard to keep salads interesting from day to day, at least for me. We aren’t the most adventurous salad eaters. I read recipes for such wonderful salads, but I know I would be the only one who might try them. I am trying to branch out slowly, adding new things to salads we already like.

I forget about them sometimes, but we like Parmesan shavings on salads. It moves things a little beyond shredded cheese, and allows you to get a lot of cheese taste without using so much cheese. You do have to buy a block of Parmesan cheese, but then you have it made. I get really good Parmigiano-Reggiano at Sam’s, for a fraction of the price that I would pay at the grocery store. I always feel a little silly on my monthly run, with my little pile of several kinds of cheese, chocolate chips, butter and sometimes ketchup (not every month, now that Calvin is older and beyond the ketchup at every meal stage) in the huge cart. But it works for us.

Back to the cheese shavings: you need your block of cheese and a carrot/potato peeler. Hold the cheese firmly and run the peeler firmly across the end. I like to pull it toward me – I feel like I have more control. But do it the way that works for you, of course. You should get lovely, thin shavings of cheese. You can use a knife too, but I find it easier to get more consistent shavings with the peeler. And I have never cut myself with the peeler.

We were having salads for dinner a few days ago and I really wanted croutons. We didn’t have any and I didn’t want to go to the store. I have made croutons in the oven many times, but it was too hot to turn on the oven. So stovetop croutons it had to be. A little butter in a pan, sliced garlic and cubed bread. Sprinkle on a bit of salt and, Bob’s your uncle, you have croutons.

Top your salad with your homemade croutons and your cheese shavings and you are ready to serve salad to the most discerning guests, and yourself.

Garlic Butter Croutons
From The Cook’s Life
Makes croutons for 4 salads, easy to double

1-2 tablespoons butter
1 garlic clove, sliced thinly
4-6 slices bread, cut into small cubes
salt, optional

Heat a medium skillet over medium-low heat. Add butter. When butter has melted, add garlic. Cook, stirring constantly, until garlic is fragrant and starting to soften.

Add cubed bread, spreading into a single layer. Sprinkle lightly with salt, if desired. Let cook, undisturbed, for several minutes, or until bottoms of cubes are lightly browned. Turn gently with a spatula and continue cooking until all sides are lightly browned and toasted. Serve on top of salad or soup.

These are best the day they are made, but will keep in an airtight container for a day or two. Chances are there will be no leftovers.

Download the recipe here.

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