The Best Thing About Salad Is Croutons

Tell me honestly: Are you ever excited to have a green salad for dinner?

Generally speaking, I’m not, though there was a recent exception. It was an iron-hot afternoon and I was planning for dinner. I had all the ingredients to make one of my favorite salad dressings, green goddess. I could easily stop by the store to pick up rotisserie chicken to shred and toss into the salad with greens, tomatoes, shallots, avocados and blue cheese (because Eric Kim is right that cheese is what makes a salad great).

But this was the game-changer, the item that nudged me from a place of acceptance to a state of craving: I had good croutons.

What do I mean by good croutons? Good croutons are salty and craggy, and they crunch assertively and even push back a little when you bite into them. They are typically handmade, unlike those small, sad salad-bar croutons, which are like particle board in both flavor and texture. I’d bought my croutons, but they’re easy to make with this recipe from Samin Nosrat, and they last for weeks on your counter. (You could also add garlic or cheese to those croutons, which would be fantastic.)

I ate salad for lunch or dinner multiple times in the week that followed. It was the croutons. I had to have more. Try them in this classic chopped salad from Melissa Clark, or in the version with feta and chickpeas below.

The shrimp boil now has a weeknight spinoff: the shrimp broil, Vallery Lomas’s quick and clever ode to the raucous Southern tradition. In this recipe, the spiced shrimp cooks quickly in a pool of butter and olive oil, while crunchy baby corn stands in for the cobs you would normally see. To mimic the true boil experience, serve this with baby potatoes.

There are good reasons to use ground chicken in your burgers rather than beef, but flavor is not one of them. Yasmin Fahr tackles that problem delectably by mixing parsley, Cheddar and garlic into the chicken mixture; cooking the burgers by smashing them in a cast-iron skillet (for a maximally caramelized crust on the patty); and serving them with avocado and a Dijon-mayo sauce. If you want to cook these outside, just put the pan on the grill.

A new stir-fry from Hetty Lui McKinnon! (If you know, you know.) The citrusy lemongrass here is the key ingredient in a marinade that doubles as a stir-fry sauce. Normally I’d reach for a bag of rice to steam and serve alongside, but I’m drawn to Hetty’s suggestion of using rice noodles instead.

View this recipe.


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