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Archive for December 11, 2014

TIP OF THE DAY: Salad With Fresh Herbs & A Crouton

market-salad-ricotta-toast-lemaraisbakerySF-230

Add panache to a salad by including a
crouton spread with seasoned fresh cheese
or Greek yogurt. Photo courtesy Le Marais
Bakery | San Francisco.

 

During the produce-challenged winter months, there’s no better way to dress up a salad than with a crouton and fresh herbs. In fact, it works even at the height of summer!

The typical green salad in the photo—lettuce, tomato, onion, cucumber and kalamata olives plus vinaigrette, topped with watercress*—works during any season of the year. The only difference is that in the summer, the tomatoes will taste better (cherry tomatoes are a better choice in the off season) and you may have more selection of unusual lettuces.

A crouton, in French, is a piece of toasted bread, similar to the Italian crostini. You can spread it with a fresh cheese—chèvre, feta (mashed into a spread, with a bit of cream or olive oil as needed), fromage blanc, pimento cheese, ricotta or with flavored butter (we love truffle butter). A slice of garlic bread also counts.

If the cheese is plain, you can simply add bits of snipped herbs with a pinch of salt and pepper.
 
*For an alternative spicy/peppery salad vegetable, use arugula, mizuna, mustard greens or radishes, each with peppery, tangy, zesty, piquant flavor.

 

FRESH HERBS FOR SALAD

From our grandmother, we learned the trick of snipping fresh dill and parsley into a green salad. She typically had these herbs on hand for other dishes. Even as a “whatever” teen, we found the flavor lift to be awesome.

  • Basil: It’s even more impressive if you can find the more exotic lemon basil or Thai purple basil.
  • Chives: If you’re not using onion in the salad, use snipped chives as the garnish.
  • Cilantro: It’s ideal with Latin American and Asian-themed salads.
  • Dill: Delicate and feathery in appearance, it packs great flavor.
  • Fennel: Cut the bulb into the salad, use the fronds (which look like dill, but have a sweet, mild licorice flavor as the herb accent.
  • Mint: Like mint, basil is a member of the botanical mint family, Lamiaceae. It has more intense flavor than basil, so use less of it.
  • Parsley: Flat leafed parsley has more intense flavor than curly parsley, but both add lovely flavor to salads.
  • Savory: Another member of the mint family, winter savory tastes like a cross between mint and thyme with a hint of pine. Summer savory tastes like thyme and marjoram.
  •  

    dill-paperchef-230r

    Feathery dill is delicious in any salad—as well as in the cheese or yogurt spread. Photo courtesy PaperChef.com.

     

    Try different herbs until you find your favorite(s). You can add two different herbs to the same salad.

    Instead of snipping them on top of the salad, toss them with the other vegetables and the dressing for maximum palate pleasing.

      

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