Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Homemade Croutons and Blackberry & Roasted Shrimp Salad

There is something magical about the setting sunlight that falls through our dining room windows each evening. It settles and stretches across the table in waves and casts a bright golden glow. It makes me miss my grandmother and the sun rays that pierced the window in her front door and lit up the dust in the air. My little sister and I would pretend that fairy snowflakes twirled in that beam of sunshine. Excuse me for rambling, but bread resting in natural light makes my heart skip a beat.

Especially when that bread has been dressed in olive oil and butter and tossed with freshly minced garlic cloves and their juices, red pepper flakes, sea salt, rosemary, and oregano, and then baked at 375 degrees for 15 minutes, tossed once half-way through  baking. The result is a crouton that's crunchy on the outside with a bit of chewiness in the middle. You could add these croutons to salads or soup (though it's way too hot for soup right now), but I don't see anything wrong with serving these croutons in a bowl next to some creamy cheese and olives. In fact, I plan on doing that as soon as I can come up with a reason.

I don't have an exact recipe for these, but you can definitely find one online. I just melted a couple of tablespoons of butter, added a tablespoon or two of olive oil and big pinches of all of the herbs mentioned above, and then poured this dressing over cubed ciabatta loaves, leftover from when I made these sandwiches. Then I baked them until the smell of garlic and toasting bread was enough to entice Don to remove them from the oven, since I was nursing William to sleep after a long day of fussiness and skipped naps.

I tossed some thawed shrimp with the exact same ingredients and roasted them at 375 for 10ish minutes, and then I tossed the shrimp and croutons onto a big fat bed of mixed greens and blackberries. We didn't need any dressing since the bread and shrimp were well-seasoned. I love a straightforward, basic meal like this.

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