5 Tasty Crunches for Your Salad That Aren’t Croutons: Nutritious and Gluten Free

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We all love salads—big salads for dinner, smaller servings as sides. And we love interesting ingredients; different leafy greens, assorted vegetables, slices of fruit. But there is something about having some crunch in your salad that takes the culinary sensation of the salad to a whole different level.

We admit it––croutons on salad are delicious. But we don’t always want the empty calories of white bread, or perhaps we are serving some of our gluten free friends, or don’t eat gluten ourselves.

Not only do these 5 delicious crunchy salad toppings add great taste and texture to your salad, they provide an extra-super nutritious boost. You won’t miss the croutons at all.

Crispy Quinoa
Roasted Chickpeas
Toasted Pumpkin Seeds
Parmesan Crisp Bits
Caramelized Walnuts

crispy quinoa (1)You can also sprinkle our Crispy Quinoa on roasting vegetables during the last five minutes of cooking for added crunch and flavor.

 

roasted chickpeas good (1)Roasted chickpeas are also terrific in Buddha Bowls. They can be spiced up with the addition of paprika, cayenne pepper, and/or cumin.

Pumpkin seeds1 (1)Try these Toasted Pumpkin Seeds sprinkled on any creamy soup right before you serve it.

candied walnuts 2 (1)These nuts are also featured in The Pollan Family Table cookbook with our Pollan Family Signature Salad. They make a great snack or hors d’oeuvre just as is.

Grated melted

Parm CrispYou can also sprinkle these Parmesan Crisp Bits on minestrone, garden vegetable, or tomato soups, or any soups that you traditionally serve with croutons or soup crackers.

THE RECIPES

*Crispy Quinoa
1 cup cooked quinoa, chilled
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil

Preheat the oven to 400° F.

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium mixing bowl combine the quinoa and olive oil. Spread on the baking sheet in a single layer. Roast for 15 to 20 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from the oven and let come to room temperature. Sprinkle on top of your dressed salad. They may be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

* Roasted Chickpeas
One 15-ounce can organic chickpeas, drained, rinsed well, and patted dry (or 1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas)
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
Sea Salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400° F.

In a small mixing bowl combine the chickpeas, 2 teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and 1/8 teaspoon of pepper. Mix well until the chickpeas are thoroughly coated.

Spread the chickpeas on a rimmed baking sheet and roast for 15 minutes (stirring them once halfway through.) Remove from the oven and let come to room temperature. Scatter on top of your salad. They may be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

* Roasted Pepitas
1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds, seeded
Organic olive oil cooking spray
Sea salt

Preheat the oven to 400° F.

Place the pumpkin seeds on a rimmed baking sheet. Spray with cooking oil and season with salt to taste. Roast for 10 to 12 minutes, until slightly browned. Remove from the oven and let come to room temperature. Scatter on top of your salad. They may be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 weeks.

* Parmesan Crisp Bits
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (not pre-grated or it will not melt)

Preheat the oven to 350° F.

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

Spread the shredded cheese on the baking sheet in a rectangular shape, approximately 9-inches by 7-inches, pressing down slightly. Place in the oven and cook for 10 minutes until the cheese is bubbling, just turning golden brown and looks like lace. Let cool completely, then break into pieces and scatter onto your dressed salad. They may be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

* Caramelized Walnuts
1 cup chopped walnuts
3 tablespoons sugar

Line a plate or work surface with wax or parchment paper. Place a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the walnuts and sugar, and stir continuously with a wooden spoon. After about 3 minutes the sugar will begin to melt. Keep stirring until the sugar turns caramel brown and the nuts are golden and toasted, an additional 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the heat immediately (they can burn quickly) and spread on the wax or parchment paper, using the wooden spoon to separate them at once. Let cool completely. Break the walnuts apart with your fingers. Scatter on top of your salad. They may be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 weeks.