Clever Pumpkin's (to die for) Anytime Salad with toasted walnuts and parmesan croutons
Ingredients (serves 2):
80g mixed, washed salad leaves
Heaped ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons (40ml) good, salad quality olive oil
1 tablespoon (20ml) tarragon vinegar
1 French/Dutch shallot, finely diced, or the bulb (10cm) of a spring onion/scallion sliced
½ cup walnuts, lightly toasted
30g Turkish Bread (or other gutsy bread) crusts removed, cut into even sized cubes
1 ½ tablespoons (30ml) grated parmesan
2 teaspoons (10ml) olive oil
Note: Try to get your croutons roughly the same size or else some will burn and be bitter before all are browned. It is also extremely important to check these regularly, because the difference between done to perfection and burnt to buggery is about a minute.
Place bread in a bowl, pour oil over and mix gently but thoroughly. Leave to stand a few minutes to let the bread absorb the oil, then add the parmesan and mix through until croutons are nicely coated.
Place on a baking sheet lined with baking paper, collecting any remnants of cheese from the bowl and distribute evenly over the croutons. Pop in a moderate oven for about eight minutes (time it!) and keep watching them. Croutons are ready when nicely golden and crisp to the touch. Leave aside to cool, then take one for yourself without telling anyone. Yummy, isn’t it?
Toast walnuts in a small frying pan over moderate heat. Be careful not to overdo it as they will become bitter. You'll know they're toasted when you eat one to find it tastes toasted. Leave aside to cool.
Place salad leaves in a bowl along with cooled croutons and walnuts.
Whisk together shallot (or spring onion), tarragon vinegar, Dijon mustard and olive oil until emulsified. Pour over leaves, nuts and croutons, making sure you get a lot on the croutons – trust me, once the parmesan croutons have soaked up this dressing they are absolutely to die for. Toss thoroughly, making sure everything gets a nice coating. Serve immediately.
This salad goes a real treat with our baked potatoes stuffed with pancetta, parmesan and sour cream.