Sunday, July 3, 2011

Retreat Salad (or the salad formerly known as Phat)

I initially had titled this one Phat Salad, but my husband gently reminded me that I was horribly confused; Phat Salad is made with orzo and radicchio.  Hmph.  I stood corrected.  

This salad is green and was born out of necessity at our "retreat" - our little vacay home in South Carolina. My family was soon to embark on the fourteen-hour drive home, and I needed to serve one final dinner.  I also needed to make use of the odds-and-ends in the fridge that would otherwise spoil during the drive.  We loved this salad so much that we make it often at home -- on purpose!  Feel free to go through your fridge and put your own spin on this delightful year-round dish.  

Substitute walnuts for the croutons and a little shaved parmesan for the chevre for an even healthier meal.

Since this is an odds-and-ends salad, add whatever you have fresh in your garden...  sugar snaps, corn, radishes, carrots.  Anything goes!

1 head of lettuce, maybe green leaf or romaine, chopped
1 apple, something crunchy, diced
1 bell pepper, I like yellow or orange, diced or cut into strips
4 oz chevre (or whatever cheese you have)
4 slices of bread, heels just fine
3 eggs (2 hard-boiled, 1 raw and lightly beaten)
1 shallot, finely chopped, optional
dried herbs, like Italian Seasoning or Herbs de Provence
dijon mustard
olive oil
apple cider vinegar

Hard-boil two eggs by placing them gently into boiling water and letting boil for 12 minutes.  Carefully remove and run under cool water.  Peel and slice the eggs.  Set aside to cool slightly.

Chevre Croutons: Put two slices of bread in a food processor (heels are good here) to make bread crumbs.  Dry roast them over medium heat or on a sheet pan in the oven - optional.  Sprinkle with herbs and mix.  Form chevre into 1-inch balls, then flatten slightly.  Dip into beaten egg to coat, then dip into bread crumbs to coat.  Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a small pan over medium to med-high heat.  Add breaded cheese to lightly fry about a minute or two on each side.  The cheese and breading will lift easily when done. Set aside on a cloth napkin or paper towel.

Classic Croutons: Cut the other two slices of bread into 1-inch cubes, and toss with a tablespoon of olive oil and a sprinkle of herbs.  Lightly fry, stirring occasionally, to make warm croutons.  Mmmm!

Dressing: Pour 3 tablespoons vinegar into a measuring cup, and add 1 tablespoon dijon mustard, the chopped shallot, and salt and pepper to taste.  Whisk.  Then, add olive oil, in a steady stream while whisking until the mixture reaches the 1/4 cup mark.  Adjust taste with a little extra oil or vinegar.

Toss the greens, peppers, apple and dressing in a large bowl to coat with dressing.  Add egg slices, chevre croutons and classic croutons on top, and serve!

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