Red and Green Lettuces with Apple, Herb-Scented Croutons and Walnuts

By • January 5, 2012 5 Comments

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Author Notes: Roasted nuts and homemade herbed croutons can make any salad special with surprisingly little effort. Feel free to use seasonal fresh herbs for the croutons, e.g., a tablespoon of chopped basil, perhaps with a touch of mashed garlic, instead of the sage, rosemary and thyme. You can use a firm Bartlett or Comice pear or an Asian pear instead the apple; fuyu persimmons also work well. I do hope you enjoy this. ;o)AntoniaJames

Serves 4

  • 2 cups cubed artisanal bread, cut into ¾” dice
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided (3 for the croutons, 1 for the nuts)
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped rosemary leaves
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped thyme leaves
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped sage leaves
  • 1/2 - 3/4 cup walnut halves
  • 6 or 8 big handfuls of lettuce leaves – I prefer a combination of Boston and red leaf lettuce for this
  • 1 tablespoon roasted walnut or pistachio oil
  • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon (a quick drizzle) of honey
  • 1 crisp apple or one firm pear
  • 1 Persian cucumber, sliced, or ½ cup of jicama, peeled and cut into 2-inch matchsticks (optional)
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese, broken into small bits (optional; I don't add when other dishes involve a lot of cheese)
  • Black pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Put the cubed bread in a large bowl. Drizzle slowly 3 tablespoons of oil around the outside of the bowl while turning it briskly; then toss the cubes thoroughly five or six times. Sprinkle on a big pinch of salt and toss. Add the herbs (and a clove of mashed garlic, if using chopped basil), toss very lightly, and then turn out onto a large baking sheet. Spread them out and put into the hot oven. Toast for 5 minutes, then turn the croutons over and toast for another 5 minutes, more or less, depending on how brown they are after the first five minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, toss the walnuts with the oil and salt (in the same bowl you used for the croutons) and turn out onto a second baking sheet. Roast for 6 minutes, then turn the nuts and roast for another 2 minutes; check and put back in for another minute or 2 at most if they're not quite done. Otherwise, take them out and remove them immediately from the baking sheet.
  4. Whisk together the vinegars and honey with a tiny pinch of salt. Add the walnut or pistachio oil and whisk to combine.
  5. Right before making the salad, quarter, core and thinly slice the apple or pear. (You can actually do this an hour or two before, but make sure to toss to coat well the apple or pear slices in a bit less than all of the dressing, then cover them with the cucumbers and feta, if using, in the salad bowl. Top with the lettuce and lightly cover with a tea towel, reserving the walnuts and croutons to add right before serving.)
  6. To make the salad, thoroughly toss the lettuce, apple or pear, feta (if using) and cucumber or jicama, if using, with not quite all of the dressing. Toss 33 times. Sprinkle on the toasted walnuts and croutons and toss again 10 or 12 times. Test for salt and add, if necessary; add the remaining dressing if you think the salad would benefit from it. Grind some black pepper over the salad, if you like.
  7. I do hope you like this. Yours affectionately, AntoniaJames ;o)

More Great Recipes: Vegetables|Salads

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