As the summer approaches every year, I seem to spend most of my time daydreaming about salad. Not about chowing down on a lettuce but of ways to make it tastier and more interesting because I need to eat more of it.
It’s a tough job but there are ways to get me interested in salad – the addition of tuna, feta and now, avocado. Avocado is a love it or hate it kind of food and we have a divided opinion in our house – I love it and Kieran hates it.
I must admit avocado is one of those things that has a kind of luxury appeal. Every now and then during my early teenage years there were a couple of things that my mum and I would eat when my dad wasn’t at home (because he didn’t like them, not because we were leaving him out!). One of them we called “food of the Gods” which was tuna mayo with onion and chopped pepper mixed in and the other we laughingly called “avocado fromage” which was super ripe avocado mashed up with cream cheese and black pepper and simply spread on fresh crusty bread – the thought of it still makes my mouth water! Even now in my 40s, both tuna and avocado have that luxury connotation in my head despite the fact that we actually eat quite a lot of tuna!
Pancetta is an ingredient which has replaced two others in my heart in one fell swoop. I barely use bacon or ham anymore while cooking as I much prefer the more subtle and interesting flavour of pancetta. It has worked its way into my favourites – perhaps as part of my new love affair with Mediterranean food and ingredients? You can pretty much always use it in place of bacon whether it’s in a pasta, a salad or in baked goods and it’s available in most supermarkets in sliced or diced forms so they have you covered for most recipes.
Anyway, here is the result of one of my daydreaming sessions. It’s a salad of contrasts – creamy avocado, smoky pancetta, fresh sweet yellow pepper, sharp but sweet cherry tomatoes, the odd sweet hit from a bit of corn, a zing-tastic dressing and some crunchy homemade croutons!
The croutons were actually an afterthought. Our local shop has started selling these tiger loaf bloomers and while they are a little more expensive than a bog-standard loaf of bread it is WELL worth the difference, trust me! The only problem is that you don’t get as many slices as you would in a normal loaf and we always end up with an odd number of slices left over. As a result, we had two slices left which is good for nothing for two people. I hate waste so I decided to try and make some croutons as a last-minute addition to my avocado and pancetta salad!
Making croutons was a bit of an adventure. They came out as chewy bread the first time because I hadn’t cooked them long enough and charcoal when I gave them a bit longer and, to be honest, forgot about them! Fortunately, it was third time lucky and they came out perfectly!
I originally thought about adding some kind of citrus element in to this salad – maybe some very thin slices of orange for contrast and flavour but to be honest I think it would be overkill. It’s a simple but sophisticated salad that will fill you up and leave you wanting a bit more all at the same time. And the best bit is that if it does leave you wanting more, you CAN indulge because, let’s face it it’s rabbit food!
So let me know what you think of the salad via the comments section or by using the Contact Me form on the site. I’m also on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter so feel free to tag me in your posts – I love hearing from you! Enjoy DDx.Print
Pancetta and Avocado Salad with homemade croutons
- Total Time: 25 minutes
- Yield: 4 servings 1x
Crispy pancetta, chunks of creamy dreamy avocado with salad and a tangy dressing. Perfectly topped off with some crunchy homemade croutons!
- 60 ml extra virgin olive oil
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1/4 teaspoon oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
- 1/4 teaspoon wholegrain mustard
- 2 teaspoons honey
- Salt and pepper
- 300 g lettuce, shredded (or it’s also good with baby spinach leaves)
- 350 g diced pancetta
- 3 avocados, cut into chunks
- 300 g cherry tomatoes, quartered
- 100 g sweetcorn
- 2 yellow peppers, cut into chunks
- 2 thick slices of bread (I used tiger bread that was a couple of days old)
- 1/2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 2 teaspoons of parsley, finely chopped
- Salt and pepper
- Preheat the oven to 220°C / fan 200°C / 425° Line a baking sheet or tray with baking paper.
- Mix the oil, parsley and some salt and pepper together in a bowl.
- Cut the bread into cubes and add them to the bowl. Mix well to ensure all the bread is coated.
- Lay the bread out in a single layer on the tray and cook in the oven for 5-7 minutes until golden and crunchy. Leave to cool on the tray.
- Drizzle a tiny bit of oil in a pan and place over a medium heat. Add the pancetta and fry until golden and crispy. Spread out on some kitchen roll to drain and cool off slightly.
- Whisk the dressing ingredients together or put in a jar and shake to blend.
- Mix the salad ingredients in a large mixing bowl and add enough dressing to coat everything – IF YOU HAVE ANY LEFT, DON’T WORRY AS THE REST WILL KEEP WELL IN AN AIRTIGHT CONTAINER IN THE FRIDGE FOR UP TO A WEEK AND IS GOOD FOR DRESSING SIDE SALADS WTH OTHER MEALS.
- Add the pancetta to the salad and toss everything together well.
- Serve topped with some of the homemade croutons and an extra twist of black pepper.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 15 minutes