Salad Greens with Pumpernickel Croutons, Shaved Parmesan and Pumpkin Seed Oil Vinaigrette


Croutons

  • 2 (1/2-inch think) slices pumpernickel bread, crusts removed
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Slice the bread into 1/2-inch cubes; drizzle with oil, then season to taste with salt and pepper. Place on a baking sheet, and cook until crisp, about 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from oven, and cool completely.

Vinaigrette

  • 1/4 cup toasted and hulled pumpkin seeds (pepitas)*
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 1 1/2 lemons)
  • 1/2 head Roasted Garlic (recipe follows)
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar, or to taste
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seed oil**
Place pumpkin seeds in the work bowl of a food processor; add a pinch of salt and pepper, and pulse until finely ground. Add lemon juice, roasted garlic and sugar, and process until smooth. With the machine running, slowly add the pumpkin seed oil; blend until creamy and emulsified.

Taste, and adjust the seasoning as needed with salt and pepper. If the vinaigrette is too thick, add cool water, one tablespoon at a time, until the desired consistency is achieved.

Salad

  • 1 head red leaf lettuce, crisped*** and torn into pieces
  • 1/4 cup toasted and hulled pumpkin seeds (pepitas)*
  • 2 ounces Parmesan cheese, shaved (about 1/2 cup)
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
When ready to serve, combine the lettuce and pumpernickel croutons in a large bowl. Add just enough vinaigrette to coat each leaf, and toss to combine. Sprinkle with pumpkin seeds, shaved Parmesan and black pepper; serve immediately.

Tips and Techniques

* Pepitas are pumpkin seeds used often in Mexican cooking; they are available for purchase at specialty and/or ethnic markets or online at myspicer.com. If you prefer, you may toast and hull the pumpkin seeds yourself.

** Pumpkin seed oil is a strong flavored, yellowish-green oil made from pressing roasted pumpkin seeds. It adds a rich, nutty flavor to salads, vegetables, poultry, meat and seafood. It may be found in your local health food market or online at earthy.com or igourmet.com.

*** To Crisp Greens: Soak salad greens briefly in a large basin of water. Lift the greens out of the water, shake off the excess water and dry in a salad spinner (do this in batches, if necessary). To crisp, wrap in linen or paper towels, place in a plastic zip-top bag and store in the vegetable bin of your refrigerator. If the greens are to be torn or cut into smaller pieces, it is best done just before the salad is dressed and served. Greens will stay crisp this way for up to two days.

Serves 8

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