Every fall without fail, I make batches of spiced and candied nuts, those deadly calorie bombs that you can’t stop yourself from eating. They make great holiday gifts and I usually reserve a batch for topping salads. This time I thought, why not make batches of other salad toppings, like parmesan crisps and croutons and store them as well? Fall salad lunches for large holiday gatherings will be much quicker to put together.
The first time I set eyes on these lacy creations, Martha Stewart was demonstrating how to make them on her TV show, more than 10 years ago. They are so easy to make, yet add a very special touch to any salad and are bound to be a conversation piece.
I make them on the stovetop, though they can be made in the oven as well.
Bring a non stick pan to a medium heat. Put ½ a heaped tablespoon of grated parmesan cheese on the pan in a mound. Then gently spread it to form a circle, about an inch and a half across. Wait for 40-50 seconds and you will see the cheese melt and get a little brown.
Lift with a spatula and set aside. At this stage the cheese round is very pliable and you can shape it if you want. They will get crisp as it cools.
I make about 4 cheese crisps at a time. By the time I have spread the fourth cheese mound, the first cheese crisp is done. Then, one after another the rest are ready to be removed.
Here are a few that I have shaped.
Put a stainless steel pan on the stove and melt 1 tablespoons of butter. Then add 2 heaped tablespoons of sugar. [ I used raw cane sugar]
Keep stirring while the sugar melts and looks like this.
Now add I cup of toasted pecans and keep stirring for a minute or so till all the pecans are coated. Turn off the stove and add salt and a few pinches cinnamon and paprika.
Melt a tablesspoon of butter in a pan. Add about 3/4 - 1 cup of day old cubed bread or french bread. Fry the croutons till they are golden brown. Add chopped seasonal herbs of your choice, salt and pepper to taste.
Yipee! we now have our ready made salad toppings. Watch this space! A big, bold and beautiful fall salad recipe to follow soon.
- This post is more about the technique. Measurements of ingredients are not that critical. I have highlighted the quantities in purple.
- These toppings have stored well so far for three days now. UPDATE; The parmesan crisps are still crisp after13 days, stored in a tin box lined with parchment paper . The nuts have lasted in perfect condition for upto a week at least in previous occasions.
- The nuts are lightly candied here, for candied nuts I’d use more sugar and less nuts. This can be tricky as sugar might harden and won’t be able to coat the nuts. A few tries and you’ll get the hang of it.
- I packed everything in tins lined with wax paper.
Sending this off to fall fest event started by Margaret Roach from ‘A Way To Garden’.