Little Gem Salad with Homemade Croutons and a Toasted Spice Vinaigrette


The summer harvest season is almost over which means more and more of those gorgeous fall vegetables are showing up at the farmers market and I am incredibly excited about it. I know better not to pick the first of the season winter squashes (my favorite) cause they are never as good as they are in all their autumn glory. Somehow I have developed patience when it comes to this which is shocking.

I love everything about the fall season - the weather, the leaves, the holidays, the coziness, cooking my favorite autumn recipes, discovering new ways to devour the abundance of all those delicious root vegetables, slow cooked stews, soups, baking, roasting - mmmm mmmmm. But more on all that when the time comes (!) cause now I am in the future salivating on what is to come which is never a good idea and gets me nowhere - must enjoy what is in the present!


This salad is a perfect late summer one that showcases the last of the season’s vegetables. You could use just about anything you like or have on hand cause the vinaigrette is really the star here. It has a bit of a middle eastern flare but the spice not overbearing. Just right. It also lasts a good week in the fridge making it super convent to drizzle it on just about anything you want. It’s pared beautifully with a number of things I have drizzled it over too; roasted beets, sautéed corn, string beans, chicken, steamed vegetables, cooked grains (quinoa, barley, rice), avocado… you get my point: incredibly versatile. I always love to have great dressings around in the fridge. It takes only a few minutes to make so I would double the recipe to enjoy longer.


Little Gem Summer Salad with Homemade Croutons 

  • 4 heads of little gem lettuce, washed and leaves kept whole
  • handful of cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 medium japanesse or persian cucumber, sliced in circles
  • a few green olives, pitted and chopped
  • a few TB feta, crumbled
  • 2 TBS fresh parsley, cilantro or basil, chopped

*homemade croutons *to make croutons: 4 thick slices of day old bread (about 1 inch) 2 TB olive oil and a nice pinch of sea salt. preheat oven to 400. In a bowl, toss the torn bread with the olive oil and sea salt. Spread the bread evenly on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and bake until golden brown, about 10-15 minutes.

Toasted Spice Vinaigrette

  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1⁄4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 TB apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 tsp coarse sea salt, or more to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper

Toast coriander, cumin, and fennel seeds in a dry small skillet over medium heat, tossing, until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Let cool, then grind in spice grinder or smash in mortal and pestle.

Whisk ground spices with oil, vinegar, mustard, lemon juice, sea salt and a few turns of freshly milled black pepper in a small bowl. Taste adding more salt if desired.