A good salad topping changes everything. You could have fresh quality vegetables, but if you have a bad salad topping you have a sad salad — I don’t make the rules. But don’t worry, I am here to help you with a topping that will add crunch and flavour to help elevate your salad.
Non-stick pan, or a dutch oven if available
Baking sheet pan
1 tbsp of olive oil (1 ½ tbsp of olive oil if you are not using anchovies)
1-2 pieces of anchovies (optional)
1-2 shallots, sliced (shallot size can vary)
⅔ cup of panko breadcrumbs
1 cup of nuts or seeds of choice (e.g. pumpkin, sunflower, pistachios, almonds, cashews, walnuts)
Salt & pepper (to taste)
Roasting the nuts or seeds:
Preheat your oven to 350 F. Evenly spread out your nuts or seeds of choice and drizzle a light amount of olive oil (about 1 tsp). Roast them for 10 minutes, making sure to stir so they roast evenly. It is important to note that different ovens have different heat settings and can emit heat differently, so I strongly recommend you closely sit by during those last 5 minutes to make sure they are not burning. Once everything is golden brown, immediately remove the nuts or seeds from the pan to allow them to cool. Make sure you do not leave them on the hot pan as they can continue to roast and scorch.
Frying the shallots:
Slice the shallots, avoiding thin slices as they can burn easily. Heat a pan with olive oil at medium heat. Add the shallots and stir continuously until they are lightly golden. Remove from the pan as they should continue to cook with the remaining heat and oil, gradually becoming golden brown and crispy.
Toasting the panko:
If you are using anchovies: Using the leftover olive oil (add more if needed), add your anchovies and allow them to melt under low to medium heat. Add the panko breadcrumbs and stir continuously until lightly golden. Remove from the heat and they should continue to toast with the remaining heat, becoming golden brown.
Combine the roasted nuts or seeds, fried shallots, and toasted panko with salt and black pepper to taste. The topping can be stored for 1 ½ week in the refrigerator.
This crunchy and savoury salad topping is quite versatile. It can be mixed with some mayo or mustard and slathered onto a sandwich. It can be used as lasagna or eggplant parmesan topping or mixed with some popcorn. It acts as a go-to crunchy topping for any dish. The roasted, fried and toasted elements give a savoury depth to any salad. I would mix the crunchy topping with a salad dressing to bring the best of both worlds. Enjoy!