I’m an avid salad eater; I practically eat them by the bucket-full, and sometimes (most of the time) I find myself daydreaming about new salad dressing combinations at work when I’m supposed to be focusing on the task at hand. The salads I eat are not little mounds of shredded iceberg lettuce topped with a few drizzles of bottled ranch dressing. I’m not hating if that’s your favorite, go-to salad; go for it and enjoy it, but if I can, perhaps, be a little unnecessarily honest for a moment, those kind of salads just don’t cut it for me anymore. Bottled ranch dressing may have been what made it possible for me to eat, and unassuredly enjoy, any actual vegetables back in the day; and it’s true that my pre-2016 idea of a “salad” was a pile of off-green, nearly grey or translucent, lettuce, doused with a creamy white dressing, however, now ranch dressing goes alongside pizza, not vegetables (unless it is a veggie-topped pizza, of course). Where am I going with this? Think of this off-topic (‘wtf are you saying meg’) post as an ode to vibrant, lustrous salads, sans the bottled-stuff and sickly lettuce, the way they are (or at least I think they are) meant to be!
So I really, really like salads, so what? You know what else I like? Bread. I really, really like bread. And sometimes, bread in my salads. Perhaps if those grey mountains of lettuce had been decorated with generous handfuls of homemade garlic croutons, I would have a better salad-eating track record in the books (or maybe I’m just making lame excuses for not eating my greens back in the day). Said salads wouldn’t be any healthier with the bread-topping improvement, but they would be just that: an improvement. And a noteworthy one at that (or so I think, hence, -> me, here, writing this for you, mysterious person on the internet).
If you’re getting a little sad looking at your bare salad everyday, or you feel fatigue beginning to envelope you at the mere reminder to ‘eat-your-leafy-greens-everyday,’ I have some serious advice for you: turn some of that recently abandoned french bread (or buy a loaf and ‘forget about it’ for a couple days, as I did) into crunchy little garlic croutons and whisk them into your bowl of green vegetables. That’s what I did the other day and I ate a ridiculous amount of leafy lettuce in the process, it was hilarious and awesome (it was a truly inordinate amount of greens). Some people think bread is unhealthy and should never (they really mean never) be consumed (even by those of us with zero, zip, ZILCH intolerance for gluten). I say we dismiss their opinions for the extent of this post. I will happily listen to their side of things after I eat my bigger-than-my-face bowl of Caesar salad topped with my delicious crunchy ass garlic croutons (sorry if that was a little rude; to all of the lovely, truly gluten-intolerant people out there, depending on where you live, you may be able to find a grain-free baguette to chop up in place of a white flour one!) Happing eating and crunching, everyone!!
Enough for ~4-6 large side salads!
5 heaping cups french bread cubes (preferably 2-3 day-old dry bread)
3 tbsps unsalted pasture-raised butter, melted
2 tbsps extra virgin olive oil
2 – 3 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced longways (resembling almond slivers)
3/4 tsp garlic powder
3 – 4 grinds fresh black pepper
1/4 slightly heaped tsp fine salt (sprinkle on more to taste)
1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
2. Cut bread into roughly inch-thick cubes (or smaller, if you’d like), and add to a large bowl; toss with melted butter and olive oil before topping with the sliced garlic & powder, salt, and pepper. Allow to sit for a few minutes so the bread can soak up the oil and flavors.
3. Evenly spread out croutons on a baking tray and bake for about 10-12 minutes, until noticeably golden brown! Be sure not to overcook them and burn the garlic. Allow to fully cool (and gain more crunch) before storing in a tight container, or serving over a large bed of creamy Caesar salad! Best if used within a few days.