I cleaned out my fridge this weekend and it made me wonder why that process is so cathartic. I suppose it's a lot like cleaning out a closet or junk drawer. You get to go through it and get rid of things that just didn't work for you or that seemed important once, but really must not have been because they've long been forgotten. I got sad for the baklava syrup that got shoved to the back of the top shelf and never used. I got inspired by the fresh ingredients that I realized I needed to use- and soon. I nosed my way through leftovers both worthy of polishing off and those good for the trash can only. In the end, I was left with a clean, organized refrigerator, a feeling of some great accomplishment and the thought that maybe some other parts of my life could use a good clean out too.
When I realized that the chicken I was planning on cooking last night was a little on the not so fresh side, I needed an alternate plan, and quick. So I came up with the salad version of one of my favorite sandwiches- the BLT. I had all the ingredients and several of them were on the need-to-use-now list. It's got all the best parts of the sandwich- the fresh tomatoes, the crumbly bacon, and the toasted bread (in the form of freshly made croutons). The mayo was replaced by a tangy buttermilk dressing and I grilled a bit of steak to make it worthy of a main dish salad. I've also had the salad with almond-crusted chicken cutlets and it was just as good.
BLT Salad with Buttermilk Chive Dressing
Dressing recipe comes from Fine Cooking
For the salad:
1 head of romaine or red leaf lettuce, coarsely chopped (I added some arugula too- about a handful)
2 handfuls of cherry tomatoes, halved or 2 large tomatoes cut into wedges
5 slices of cooked bacon, crumbled
For the croutons:
5 slices of sandwich bread, crusts cut off and cubed
2 tbs olive oil or melted butter
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp garlic powder
For the dressing:
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 tbs white wine vinegar
2 tbs sour cream
4 tbs olive oil
2 tbs chopped fresh chives
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat your oven to 300 degrees. To make the croutons, mix the oil or butter, salt and garlic powder in a small bowl. Spread the bread cubes on a baking sheet and drizzle with the oil mixture. Toss to coat the bread cubes then spread them out into a single layer. Bake for about 20 minutes until the croutons are lightly browned, crunchy and dried throughout, stirring halfway through. Let cool.
Next, make the dressing. In a small bowl whisk together all of the ingredients. It's that simple. Refrigerate while putting together the salad.
Toss all salad ingredients in a large bowl. Portion onto dinner plates, sprinkle with croutons and top with dressing. As I said, this salad works well with grilled steak, grilled chicken, or even breaded chicken cutlets or shredded rotisserie chicken in a pinch.