In the reflection of my laptop screen I can see thousands of leaves blowing in unison against a perfect ratio of cloud to sky. With a quick change in focus I can see the words forming, black on white, a blog post, finally, after too many months of silence. This summer rushed in and blessed me with a new job, a new home, and plenty of occasions for cooking and sharing meals with family and friends. I’ve been tying up swimsuit strings, catching toads, and playing Candy Land with the two little girls I’ve nanny-ed for since June. Also, I’ve picked out curtains for all the windows in our new apartment, organized my cookbooks on the nifty built-in bookshelves, and explored the neighborhood on new running routes with my husband as we train for our first half-marathon. I’ve cooked and baked for birthdays and picnics and enjoyed every bite of my summer.
And now it’s time to dedicate some moments to sharing something here. This week, I’ll offer up two humble summer salads. They’re eager for outdoor concerts, potlucks, or nights when the grill is off-duty. I recommend chasing them with a bottle of red or white under the blue and cheers-ing every last drop of summer.
The first salad I’ll share is something I whipped up with the contents of our first CSA box. It’s built on a tender mound of red leaf lettuce and dressed with a classic shallot vinaigrette - but there’s more to love – thinly sliced sweet-pungent scallions, crunchy rustic red peppers, salty feta, and… olive bread croutons(!!!).
Red leaf and scallion salad with olive bread croutons and feta
half a loaf olive bread
head of leaf lettuce
4-5 scallions (green and white parts)
rustic red pepper (aka long pepper)
good feta cheese, crumbled
white wine vinegar
shallots or garlic
s & p
Throw it together:
To make the croutons, I sliced day-old olive bread (you can use any kind of chewy, artisan bread) into 1 inch cubes. I put the bread cubes on a sheet pan, thinly coated them with olive oil, and baked for 10 minutes at 425° F. *Check your croutons frequently* We’re looking for browned edges with crispy outsides and chewy insides. Friends, trust me on this, you’ve got to have the chewy insides.
From there, roughly chop up a head of leaf lettuce (mine was red, yours might be green, or purple!), thinly slice 4 or 5 scallions (aka green onions), and slice a rustic red pepper into strips. Then, put all the veggies in a nice bowl, surround them with a halo of croutons, and top with feta. (I also added toasted sunflower seeds after I took the photos.)
For the dressing, glug your preferred ratio of olive oil and vinegar into a jar with a tight fitting lid, mince some shallots or garlic and thow them in the pool. Squirt in a dollop of Dijon mustard and grind in salt and pepper. Shake the jar vigorously (with the lid on, silly!) until the dressing is emulsified.
I served the dressing on the side so the croutons wouldn’t get soggy. You can thank me later for their chewy insides. ;)