Tuesday, 24 April 2012

A Crouton Fit For a Meal

It isn't too often that I think a crouton makes a salad complete. Maybe a crouton fully complements a Caesar salad, but even then I don't think that a crouton makes the salad complete. 

But in this case, I truly think everyone will agree with me when I say that these croutons make this salad complete. Without them, the salad wouldn't be worth mentioning. It would only be spinach, cucumber, and a little balsamic vinaigrette salad dressing. 

That being said, these "croutons" are a little more work than the average joe. I'll let you figure out if you think they're worth it. I certainly do!

Crispy and Creamy Mushroom Packets

16 pieces of bread
36 button mushrooms, finely chopped 
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 cup of cream cheese
1 tablespoon parsley, finely chopped
2 tablespoons of butter, for butter the bread
1 pinch of salt and pepper
4 cups of baby spinach
2 cups of cucumber, sliced
3 tablespoons of vinaigrette salad dressing

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

2. Combine mushrooms, garlic, and olive oil in a pot on the stove at medium heat. Stir to cover all mushrooms and garlic in the oil and let the mixture cook until the veggies soften, about 5 -7 minutes. 

3. Add the cream cheese to the mushroom mixture and stir until the cheese is melted and well combined. Add salt and pepper to your taste and stir in the parsley. 

4. Remove crusts from the all the pieces of bread and butter all slices generously on one side. Cut 12 of the slices of bread in half and cut the remaining 4 slices into quarters. 

5. Press one quarter of bread (butter side down) into each of the 12 sections of a muffin tin. Line the edges of the muffin tin sections with two pieces of the halved bread each (butter side against the muffin tin). Press down on the bread to secure it. 

6. Divide the mushroom mixture among the 12 muffin tin sections and top with the remaining 12 quarters of bread (butter side up). 

7. Bake the Crispy and Creamy Mushroom Packets for 12-15 minutes or until the tops begin to brown. 

8. While the Crispy and Creamy Mushroom Packets are baking, toss the spinach with the cucumbers and vinaigrette and divide onto 12 plates. 

9. When Crispy and Creamy Mushroom Packets are finished baking, run a butter knife along the edge of each muffin tin section and spoon the packets onto the salad plates, flipping the packets over so that the pretty side of each packet shows. 

10. Cut into Crispy and Creamy Mushroom Packets and let the crispy outer shell act as croutons and the creamy middle complement the vinaigrette and fresh veggies. Enjoy!

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