For many years, I forgot all about croutons. With vague memories of small, cubic, somewhat powdery specimens in the cup-o-soups of my teenage years, it’s no surprise these crunchy little morsels were long absent from the menu of my adult life. BUT what an oversight! When made at home, using good crunchy bread and olive oil, a chunky crouton is truly the most fantastic textural addition to any leafy salad. So underrated!
You do need a zingy, creamy dressing to really make this salad sing. My version is a bit of a hybrid – a good quality mayo forms the base of the dressing, but the addition of one egg yolk lends a unique richness that’s well worth the squeamish ‘ewwww, raw egg’ moment.
INGREDIENTS (SERVES 4 AS A SIDE)
For the salad
3 handfuls of crunchy young cos lettuce leaves
8 good-quality anchovies in oil (we like Ortiz brand)
6 rashers streaky bacon
4 eggs (I hard boil them because I really can’t poach an egg to save myself)
1 handful of fresh dill and/or parsley
Crusty bread for croutons
Parmeggiano Reggiano, shaved over the top
For the dressing
1 Tbsp whole-egg mayonnaise (we like Best Foods)
1 fresh raw egg yolk
1 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp virgin olive oil
1 tsp dijon mustard
Salt and pepper
Grated nutmeg to taste
Whizz up all dressing ingredients using a stick blender (or regular blender). Grate lots of nutmeg in at the end, to taste. If you love anchovies, you can also add a finely chopped up anchovy for added savoury intensity!
Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees. Tear or roughly slice your crusty bread into small pieces, and coat each one lightly in olive oil, and salt and pepper. Pop in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes or until dry and crunchy.
Wash and spin your lettuce leaves and herbs.
Hard boil your eggs (or POACH if you know how to do so reliably – I don’t!).
Grill your bacon until crispy, then slice into bite-sized morsels.
Compile all salad components except for eggs, and dress thoroughly. After plating up, add your hard boiled eggs, and shave a little more Parmesan over the top.