Its truly summertime and salads have been on my mind a lot lately. Its not just because this is swimsuit season, but rather the available local produce is growing and my salads are becoming more colorful and flavorful by the minute. In my opinion, salads (and most dishes for that matter) turn from good to better when you can keep these two factors in mind: Color & Texture.
I eat with my eyes, I mean who doesn’t. Unless you religiously tie a blindfold around your head before every meal, what you see can play a large role in what you taste. A salad with ingredients of varying shapes and colors is very appealing to me; when I put a salad together I try grab ingredients from the garden or refrigerator that compliment one another. If I have red cherry tomatoes in the salad and a choice between the red or yellow bell pepper, I’ll choose yellow. If there’s golden brown chicken with a side of redskin potatoes, I’ll throw some greens in for good measure. The more appetizing and colorful the plate looks, the more delicious I tend to think it tastes.
A similar rule applies to texture. Its all about balance in the dish as a whole. Think of this: a smooth roasted tomato sauce on perfect al dente noodles topped with crumbled Parmesan cheese and crunchy garlic bread. That’s one of the reasons why any salad I make is usually topped with nuts or croutons. You have the fresh lettuce, crisp bell pepper, a juicy tomato, creamy avocado, the bite from a red onion and the hard crunch of a garlic oregano crouton.
The best part about making homemade croutons is…well, I’m not sure I can decide. Its somewhere between, “This is the best crouton I’ve ever eaten in my life” and “What do I do with this stale loaf of bread”
Garlic! oh the sweet, wonderful and incredible flavor that is garlic! Garlic and croutons go hand in hand, they’re best friends. On the other hand, garlic and speaking to someone in close proximity are about as friendly as orange juice and toothpaste. Orange juice and toothpaste is a combination that’s simply taste bud savagery.
To make these garlic oregano croutons you’ll need only a few simple ingredients and about 15 minutes of time.
Preheat: 400 degrees
- loaf of bread (A great last minute use of stale bread!)
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2-3 tbsp fresh oregano, minced
- 1/2 cup of olive oil (enough to coat, but not soak your bread)
- salt & pepper to taste
Cut your bread into cubes and mix the above ingredients in a bowl. Once bread cubes are coated lay them out on a cookie sheet in one layer. As soon as the oven is preheated place croutons in for about 10 minutes. Now flip the croutons over and bake for another 5 minutes until golden brown. If you haven’t reached your desired “crisp and crunchy” texture yet turn your oven to broil, but be sure to keep an eye on them because broiling, though effective, can also burn your croutons very quickly.
The secret to cooking, croutons and life in general is balance.
Keep colors & textures in mind as you’re cooking; a balanced dish can help you be mindful of a balanced life.