Rule #1 - We first eat with our eyes! Contrasting shapes and colors can be a beautiful thing. The cubes of croutons and logs of carrots make this feel like an art project, painting on the plate. Flavor becomes a balancing act as well. Academy Croutons and roasted Carrots Vichy deliver the satisfying crunch, complementing the buttery texture of tender lettuce leaves.
Academy Croutons can sit in their frying pan for over a half hour after cooking, soaking up extra olive oil. The wait makes the fried bread even tastier, turning each cube into crispy little bombs delivering crunch, fat, flavor all in one bite. If there is still olive oil in the pan, use it to finish the salad.
To make Carrots Vichy, peel whole carrots - not baby carrots, not woody large carrots in 5-lb. bags, but carrots in bunches with their leafy tops intact. Cook carrots in a sauté pan over medium heat with a little bit of olive oil and enough water to come halfway up their sides. When a knife tip can barely poke inside the carrot and the water is almost evaporated. Add fresh thyme. Wait till carrots are room temperature to use in the salad, either sliced into 1-inch lengths or simply left whole. Know that these beauties are yummy hot, cold or room temperature for apps and dinner.
There are two ways to finish this sort of salad. For more crunch, you could add celery. Simply slice across the stalks to get a handful or two of pale green half moons. But if you crave more flavor, spice and fat, then salami is your friend! Thickly slice and dice and toss in salad. A little bit goes a long way. (In our latest version, pictured above, we opted for a few nubs of blue cheese. Delicious!)