Cheese Croutons Salad | Dijon Mustard and Honey Dressing Recipe
The school comes with promises. Like most schools do. With all those colorful brochures and pamphlets where couple of tiny tots from different ethnic races in their colorful attire thump their hands high up in the air with a tight fist symbolizing they will emerge to be toppers and winners, I pinned huge hopes on my daughter's learning here. The first two weeks went off in a whiz. Nothing much done. She walked in, played and walked out. She came back home happy with ugly sketch pen scribbles on paper that were below her capacity, or even for a three year old I suppose. Scribbling on paper is the first thing she did as 2 year old toddler. As a 4 year old today, she is equipped well to read and write alphabets and numbers and count them with ease. She draws well within borders and identifies good deal of animals, birds, colors, fruits, vegetables, et al. I expected continuity to her learning instead of re-learning those basics that are of least value to her.
Back in India where she spent a year at pre-school, the teaching curriculum was different than it is here. She went to school in an odd pairing of green blue uniform set, her most hated attire that she never recalls or speaks about here. Teaching, as monotonous it may sound was its methodical best. She had text books for each month - a month for colors, another on seasons, a month for food, a month dedicated to people around us, a month each of something to cover the year. She carried back homework every single day. There were notes with signatures exchanged between the teacher and the parent. Her school followed the Western style of teaching and curriculum, they claim. Yet, there was no respite to uniforms, truck load of homework, project work that seemed more a burden to the parents rather than the children. But in all, there was a lot she learnt progressively over the past one year. There were regular PTAs, a detailed progress card and it made me quite happy.
But here she goes. Essentially to a playschool in real sense. Play, fun and creative learning, they say. Scribbling on paper is no creative learning in my opinion. Its what toddlers do, not preschoolers. D says I could be the typical stereotype Indian mother who expects a lot of academic driven learning from the school and her daughter. I may not be the one, but if I am, I see no harm.
It could take a while for me to come to terms with these differences. Not too long, I know. But by then it will be time for us to head back to India. Till then its stress free, happy learning and exploring for her. For now, I see joy in her making new friends, mingling into diverse cultures and am glad she is enjoying every bit of her preschooler life.
Coming to the recipe, I have this gorgeous salad for you that is not actually complicated to put together as it may sound by the length of this recipe below. You may choose store bought bread croutons or just skip them all together. Even with the basic ingredients this salad gets notched up with sharpness from Feta cheese and Dijon mustard and Honey dressing. The cheesy bread croutons give a lovely crunch and go very well with the sweet-sour salad dressing.
Salad Leaves with Croutons, Pine Nuts, Feta Cheese with Dijon Mustard and Honey Dressing
3 cups packed organic salad leaves (I used a mix of variety of lettuce, baby spinach, romaine, kale, arugula, etc.)
1 tbsp. cup pine nuts
2 tbsp. Feta cheese
For the cheese bread croutons:
2-3 slices of whole wheat bread
1-2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. Italian herbs
2 tbsp. of mild cheddar
For the Dijon Mustard and Honey salad dressing:
1/2 tbsp. lime juice
1 tbsp. mayonnaise
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 tbsp. honey
Salt and pepper, to taste
Chop bread slices to cubes of 1.5" each and arrange them side by side on a baking tray. Drizzle some olive oil and sprinkle some dried Italian herbs on them. Bake them in a pre-heated oven at 180 deg C (356 deg F) for 14-16 mins flipping over mid way to ensure even browning. Grate 2 tbsp. of cheddar cheese evenly over these bread cubes and bake them further for 5-6 mins. Remove and allow it to cool on a wire rack. They should crisp well as they cool down.
In a large salad bowl, toss the mixed salad leaves along with the baked bread croutons and pine nuts. Set aside to be tossed with dressing of your choice.
For the salad dressing:
Whisk lime juice, mayonnaise, olive oil, Dijon mustard, honey, salt and pepper in a bowl.
To put the salad together, drizzle a generous amount of the prepared Dijon mustard and honey dressing and toss them together. Serve immediately.
To make it gluten free, skip the bread croutons or substitute the same with gluten free bread.