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Dishin’ with Dody: Lettuce, dressing, and croutons…oh my!

As promised, here is the continuation of our “salad odyssey”.  Last column covered the creation of salad dressings.  The body of a salad is as varied as the dressings.  Most any vegetable or fruit can be added to a salad.  A familiar place to start is with the greens.  There are several types of lettuce, including looseleaf, romaine, and iceberg.  Looseleaf lettuce has mildly flavoured leaves.  Romaine is a head-forming type of lettuce with elongated leaves and iceberg is known for its crunchy leaves and mild taste.

Don’t stop with the norm…experiment by adding radicchio, arugula, spinach or cabbage.  The darker the leaves the more nutrition is found.   Although lettuce is mostly made of water, it contains nutrients such as antioxidants, vitamin C, potassium and fibre. Try making your own mix by tossing several types of lettuce or purchase a spring mix with various greens.

After the foundation of greens, add other things like carrots, cucumber, tomatoes, strawberries, nuts, seeds, broccoli, jicama, corn, black beans, artichoke hearts, edamame, sprouts, hearts of palm and an endless variety of cheeses.  All of these in your combination make for a wonderful beginning.  With the addition of meat, chicken, fish, tofu or other protein you have a complete meal.  However, the “icing on the salad” must be the croutons.  Just as I prefer fresh salad dressing, the same goes for croutons.  Remember; always add croutons just before serving.

Bread Croutons

A very simple way to begin is by cutting day-old bread into ½ inch cubes.  Add to bowl and toss with olive oil, salt, garlic powder, and pepper.  You can easily substitute olive oil spray and spicy seasoned salt.  If you don’t have spicy seasoned salt, add cayenne to seasoned salt and if you don’t have seasoned salt…well, shame on you!  Place on baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees for 12-15 minutes.

Chickpea Croutons

1 (15 oz.) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

2 tsp. olive oil

½ tsp. smoked paprika

½ tsp. cumin

¼ tsp. sea salt

¼ tsp. black pepper

Pat chickpeas dry.  Combine all ingredients in medium bowl and toss gently to coat.  Spread evenly on baking sheet.  Bake for 20 minutes at 425 degrees.  Stir after ten minutes.

Avocado Croutons

1 avocado

2/3 cup flour

1 egg

1 cup panko seasoned with pinch of salt, pepper and chili powder

Slice avocado in half and remove pit.  Scoop flesh from the skin with spoon.  Chop each half into 9-12 pieces.  Place the flour in one bowl, whisked egg in second and seasoned panko in third.

Heat olive oil in pan over medium-high heat.  Dredge avocado in flour, then egg, and panko, covering completely with breadcrumbs.  Cook until golden brown.  Place on paper towel lined plate.


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