Summer of Salads, crunchy bits…

Bacon Fat Croutons!

In today’s #summerofsalads post, number three (in case you are counting along!), we tackle “crunchy bits”!  I love adding something crunchy to my salads, and it doesn’t always have to be a traditional bread crouton!  My body doesn’t appreciate many forms of gluten, so I do try to stay away from bread & other delicious gluten-filled foods, but a few croutons here or there can sometimes be okay!  If you’ve been looking to jazz up your salads with something other than the traditional bread crouton, you will LOVE this post!  Polenta Croutons, Waffle Croutons, Cake Croutons, Hash Brown Croutons and MORE!

Oh & if you do love this post, will you share it with your friends?  Please?!  Thank you 🙂

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So, first let’s tackle the recipe I made for this post- Bacon Fat Croutons.  Yes to bacon fat!  You won’t be surprised to hear that we eat alot of Bacon in our house…but you might be surprised to hear I actually keep the bacon fat in the fridge for later use.  Yep, kinda gross, but mostly amazing!  In fact, I saw this recipe for Bacon Fat Chocolate Chip Cookies the other and it’s sitting on my counter, waiting to be made!  YES to bacon fat!  This is what you’ll need:

Bacon Fat Croutons:

Loaf of bread of your choice (I used a loaf of Rustic Italian bread), cut into cubes

1/4 cup of bacon fat (or if this is totally freaking you out, use whatever oil you like!)

1/4 cup of Romano cheese, grated

herbs, salt, pepper, garlic to taste (start small, work your way up)

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Melt the bacon fat until it’s liquid again.

Toss the bread cubes in a large bowl with the bacon fat, herbs, salt, pepper & garlic.

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Then toss the cheese in with the bread and lay out on a baking sheet.

Bake at 350 degrees, checking & tossing every ten minutes or so.  Remove from oven when they are lightly golden brown.

Bacon Croutons

Enjoy these croutons right away, store in an air-tight container, but based on my experience, they won’t stay crunchy long, so eat em’ up!

Wilted Chard Salad with Polenta Croutons and a Warm Cherry Tomato Vinaigrette from Cafe Johnsonia

This gorgeous Wilted Chard Salad with Polenta Croutons and Warm Cherry Tomato Vinaigrette is from the blog Cafe Johnsonia.  I couldn’t take my eyes off of it when I found it on Pinterest!  I haven’t made it yet, but totally plan to….hooray for Polenta Croutons!  Oh & it’s got Pine Nuts too…have I told you I am obsessed with Pine Nuts?  -Photo credit Lindsey Johnson of Cafe Johnsonia.

Pistachio Nuts copy

One of my most favorite other “crunchy bits” to put in a salad is Pistachios.  Sadly, we don’t get to enjoy them often, because they are expensive!  But they are great in any salad, especially one that you add dried fruits, like cherries & golden raisins.

Below you will find some great links to delicious Crouton recipes!

Garden Salad & Waffle Croutons from the Mostly Homemade Mom-have you ever thought of using waffles for croutons?!

We added toasted Chickpeas to salads often and this Caesar Salad with Chickpea Croutons from Relish.Com looks like a great idea!

This recipe for Gingerbread Croutons from the Cafe Terra Blog puts them in a Spinach Salad with goat cheese, Craisins, pecans and a dressing made from Chobani Greek yogurt!

Homemade Cake Croutons from Munchkin Munchies-YES to cake croutons!

Yet another fabulous way to use brown butter…Brown Butter Croutons via The Taste Tester.

I NEED this Breakfast Salad with Cinnamon Toast Croutons via The Three Little Piglets.

Roasted Winter Squash with Arugula and toasted Curry Croutons looks perfect for a chilly fall dinner! Via Sunday Morning Banana Pancakes.

And wait, a Caesar Salad with Hash Brown Croutons? Um, yes please!  Via Foodie Crush.

Brussels Sprout Salad with Cornbread Croutons via The Chubby Vegetarian.

Let me know if you try any of the above deliciousness and thanks for following along on my #summerofsalads series!

Until next time, cheers!

Shawn

Shawn b & w

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