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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, or just leave it out when they're not in season. Enjoy!! ;o) - AntoniaJames
- 2 cups cubed artisanal bread, cut into ¾” dice
- 5 tablespoons flavorful olive oil, divided (3 for the croutons, 1 for the nuts, and 1 for the dressing)
- Kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped rosemary leaves
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped thyme leaves
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped sage leaves
- 1 - 1 1/2 cups walnut halves
- 6 or 8 big handfuls of lettuce leaves – I prefer a combination of Boston and red leaf lettuce for this
- 1 tablespoon walnut oil
- 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sherry vinega
- 2 medium apples (a crisp, sweet-tart variety – I like Braeburns for this) (Firm pears also work well.)
- 2 Persian cucumbers, sliced, or ½ cup of jicama, peeled and cut into 2-inch matchsticks (optional)
- 1/2 cup feta cheese, broken into small bits
- Black pepper
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- 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.
- 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.
- Whisk together the vinegars and cider with a tiny pinch of salt. Add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and the walnut oil and whisk to combine.
- Right before making the salad, quarter, core and thinly slice the apple. (You can actually do this an hour or two before, but make sure to cover the apple slices in dressing, then cover them with the other ingredients in the salad bowl.)
- To make the salad, thoroughly toss the lettuce, apples, feta and cucumber or jicama, if using, with a few tablespoons of salad dressing. Sprinkle on the toasted walnuts and croutons and toss again 10 or 12 times. Test for salt and add the remaining bit of dressing, if necessary. Grind some black pepper over the salad, if you like.
- Enjoy!! ;o)
- NB: I use my own make Rosemary Sage Focaccia, the recipe for which I hope to post here on FOOD52 within the next week or two. It provides a nice boost of herb flavor, which works particularly well in a simple salad such as this.
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Walnuts & Sage