- 1 cup whole sun-dried tomatoes, not packed in oil
- 3/4 cup olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 1 sprig fresh thyme
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
- 2 1/2 cups cubed white bread, crusts removed, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
- Essence, recipe follows
- 12 cups loosely packed assorted baby greens
- 3/4 cup grated Pepper Jack cheese
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 6 tablespoons alfalfa or broccoli sprouts
Place tomatoes in a small saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil over high heat and boil for 2 minutes, or until plumped and tender. Remove saucepan from the heat and drain off the water. Heat the 3/4 cup olive oil, rosemary, thyme, and garlic in a separate small saucepan, just until warmed through. Pour warm oil and herbs over the drained tomatoes. Cool and place tomatoes, oil, and herbs in a non-reactive container, in the refrigerator until ready to use. These will keep refrigerated for up to 1 week.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Place bread cubes in a medium bowl and drizzle with olive oil, tossing to coat. Season croutons generously with Essence and toss to coat. Place croutons on a small baking sheet and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until croutons are completely crisp. Cool completely.
To assemble the salads, place lettuce and cheese in a large mixing bowl. Remove several tomatoes from the oil and julienne about 6 tablespoonfuls. Add the tomatoes to the lettuce. Drizzle extra-virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar over the lettuce, and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Divide the salad equally among 6 salad plates. Place 4 to 5 croutons on each plate and top each salad with 1 tablespoon of the sprouts. Serve immediately.
Emeril's ESSENCE Creole Seasoning (also referred to as Bayou Blast):
2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme
Combine all ingredients thoroughly.
Yield: 2/3 cup
Recipe from "New New Orleans Cooking", by Emeril Lagasse and Jessie Tirsch, published by William and Morrow, 1993.