Spring Bloom Salad + Croutons
It’s undeniably spring here in Los Angeles. Everything is in bloom, even our produce. The farmers markets are bursting with florals in the most unexpected places: atop broccolini, intertwined with arugula leaves, and popping out of fresh herb bundles.
As it warms up, all I want to eat is salad (and bread of course). Salads are the perfect medium for all the edible flowers. I get spicy arugula, dress it in a syrupy balsamic vinaigrette and top it with flowers, microgreens, and the thinnest slices of carrot, radish and cucumbers. I like to pair it with a fresh slice of toast, however, croutons would be sublime. Croutons are also a great way to use up the butt ends of your bread as well! (Crouton recipe below)
Nothing motivates me more to get my greens in than a great vinaigrette. Every week or so, I’ll make a big batch of this vinaigrette. It's thick, like mayo and it's similar to what I’ve used as a line cook while manning the salad station. To make the salad, you smear a dollop of this thick dressing in your prep bowl, squeeze ¼ of a lemon into it, add a little salt, whisk, then toss your lettuce in there. Mixing a fresh acid into the dressing just before serving really brings out all the flavors, and good restaurants use this little trick to make that gorgeous bowl of heirloom lettuces really pop!
- 2 tbsp good balsamic
- 1 cup olive oil
- 1 tsp mustard
- 2-5 cloves garlic
- Fresh or dried herbs like thyme and rosemary
- Salt to taste
- Lemon or lime for serving
- You can make this in a blender, or you can use a whisk in a big bowl . . . Start by putting the balsamic, garlic, herbs, mustard and salt in the blender and pulse to combine
- Turn your blender on its lowest setting, then SLOWLY pour in a steady stream of olive oil while it continues to blend. The mixture will become very thick.
- Place in a container and store in the fridge until you are ready to use it, or up to a week.
- To make the salad, put 1-2 tbsp of the thick dressing in the bottom of a large prep bowl. Squeeze ¼-½ a lemon’s juice into the bowl and add a pinch of salt. Use a whisk or just a fork to mix the dressing into a looser consistency. Add your lettuce on top of the dressing and use tongs to grab the lettuce, swiping it across the bottom of the bowl as you mix it up. Top your salad with microgreens, edible flowers, croutons and sliced veggies!
Croutons are a way to use something that would normally be thrown away.. stale bread! Since our bread is baked to order (and we now only sell online instead of farmers markets) we don't have extra bread going stale. It doesn’t make sense for us to make bread to then make croutons out of it...but, we encourage you to grab a big box of our bread and save the ends of the loaves to make croutons at home. Here's a simple recipe you can use to upcycle for your holiday stuffing!
Cut or tear your bread into chunks and then toss in olive oil. Spread apart the chunks on a sheet pan and add salt and whatever herbs you would like. Bake at 325, tossing every 20 minutes or so until the croutons are crunchy and dried out. That's it!