Do you remember the salads of your child hood? Close your eyes and picture the rolling waves of translucent sea green iceberg lettuce crested by their crisp white spines. The surface of the sea speckled with anemic looking tomatoes, pale strips of onion hiding beneath the flaccid folds, the occasional watery slice of cucumber mixed in 'for texture'. I never understood this version of salad but, even as a small child I knew one thing, the most important thing I would argue- those sad leafy greens were the vehicle I needed in order to usher copious amounts of ranch dressing, shredded cheese and wonderfully stale (bagged) croutons into my mouth! It was so obvious to me that no one actually liked that obligatory bowl of assembled sadness, but we all recognized its essential role supporting our addiction to terrible for you food substitutes that would be otherwise frowned upon to eat in a bowl on their own. If I could have gotten away with a side of ranch, cheese, and croutons I probably would have tried, but you know, we have to keep up appearances so I didn't quite go there (though if I'm totally honest the 'salad' only accounted for a fraction of the mass in my bowl).
Fast forward to todays post sad-greens-era. We have restaurants focused around salad, there are salad cook books, and salad bars in cafes and grocery stores that are comprised of REAL, delicious ingredients! We are no longer in the salad desert forced to drown our salad sorrows in ranch dressing. I mean have you tried arugula? It is peppery and magical. What about a good quinoa salad? Or Kale salad!? You can put anything on a salad now... how did we not see this before? It really is a lunch time game changer.
Regardless of all this progress I still get nostalgic for the 'salads' of my childhood. Mostly for the ones that were actually a little bit more 'special'. Every now and again my mom would make homemade croutons, soaked in garlic butter and crisped to perfection.
Drew and I were going to a friends house for dinner the other night and I was tasked with bringing dessert and, dun dun dunnnnn the salad! (I bet you never saw that coming). I decided to go simple and classic- arugula, cherry tomatoes, lemon, salt, olive oil... but I wanted a little something extra. Normally you could add parmesan, but given my lactarded nature that option was out the window. So I decided to try my hand at a savory crumb sprinkle a la breadcrumb.
SUNFLOWER SEED 'BREAD' CRUMBS
What you will need-
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F
1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp italian seasoning
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1-2 tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
Grind sunflower seeds, salt, italian seasoning and garlic powder in a food processor or vitamix until a crumb like texture is achieved. Move the mixture to a bowl and stir in coconut oil and lemon juice (you could use olive oil or avocado oil if you prefer) until evenly combined.
Spread onto a baking sheet (I used a pan cover, but you can used foil or oil the pan directly). Place in the oven at 350 degrees F for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown.
Sprinkle over salads, use on top of pasta, or coat chicken breasts for a little chicken parm action (I haven't tried that yet but it sounds good).
Salad world doesn't have to be boring. Go on, embrace the greens and dare to create a salad worth remembering.