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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Leftover Bread Turned into a Spring Salad




The most recent batch of homemade bread had dwindled to one large bun and the chunky end of the last loaf, not enough of either to serve as a side for a salad lunch. Turning them into hefty croutons didn't make the resulting dish a "bread salad," but it did add body and savory flavor due to the garlic and added herbs.

I love the pairing of spinach and shredded cabbage, and that became the base for this mostly green salad. The rest of the list of ingredients is highly variable, based on what's in your refrigerator and your personal preferences.

The dressing has a nutrition boost, and the croutons (especially if made with a hearty whole grain bread) add to the overall balance, so this could be a good one dish main course justifying a hearty spring dessert like strawberry shortcakes or bright, and light, lemon meringues.




Healthy Spring Salad with Croutons


(NOTE--ALL salad ingredient amounts are approximate and are provided only as guides)

2 to 3 c spinach, coarsely torn
2 to 3 c shredded cabbage
2 to 3 T finely diced sweet onion
1/2 c diced green bell pepper
1/2 c diced, peeled, cucumber
2 to 3 T chopped cilantro (plus more for garnish if desired)
1 c shredded carrot (1 small to medium)

Protein Boosted Dressing
Croutons
Shredded cheddar or Monterrey jack cheese (optional)

Toss all the salad ingredients with the dressing. Divide into 3 to 4 salad plates and top with croutons and cheese just before serving. Add a grind of black pepper if desired.

Protein Boosted Dressing

1 c plain yogurt
1/4 to 1/3 c light Italian dressing--or your favorite
seasoning salt and/or cayenne pepper to taste

Stir together and toss with salad.

Croutons

2 T olive or canola oil
1/2 t garlic powder OR 2 to 3 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1/2 to 1 t dried herbs--I used a mixture of 2 parts basil, 1 part rosemary, 1 part thyme
1/2 to 1 t salt, to taste
approximately 2 c leftover bread, cut in large cubes

Stir the seasonings into the oil in a large skillet and heat on medium high for 3 to 4 minutes. When the oil is well heated and fragrant, stir in the bread and stir to coat evenly. Continue to cook, stirring often, until the bread is golden brown and quite crisp. Leftover croutons may be stored in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator for up to a week.

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