Look up "salad," and you might be surprised to find there isn't a good definition. Googling returns such results as it's "a cold dish that contains vegetables, which may or may not be cooked." The vegetables are usually seasoned with some type of dressing, and they could be accompanied by meat, fish, eggs, or other ingredients. In other words, the definition of a salad suggests it can be almost anything you want. It doesn't even need lettuce to be called a salad.
However, one area where people may fight you on the looseness of this definition is the crouton. There are not many options when it comes to the general flavor of croutons. This toasted addition must be savory. The ideal crouton should be flavored with garlic or cheese or some type of Italian seasoning. Right? Wrong. Like the salad itself, a crouton can have any flavor you want — even sweet or spicy.
Adding something sweet to your salad is nothing new. Pears, mangoes, apples, maple syrup, and even honey are all fairly common ingredients you can add to give your salad satisfying pops of sweetness. However, fruit and syrups aren't the only way to surprise your tongue. You can slip the sugar into a crouton as well.
One of the best things about sweet croutons is their versatility. You can put them on your salad, mix them with some nuts, add them to your yogurt, or even eat them as a snack because they are delicious on their own.
You can ease your way into this sweetness by starting with cinnamon and sugar. It's a familiar taste that blends well with many of a salad's more savory elements. However, if you want to get a little more daring, you can branch out with salted caramel or maple croutons to give your dish a delightful, sugary twist.
At the other end of the spectrum, you have spicy croutons. Instead of pampering your tongue into a state of blissful indulgence, you can make those taste buds get up and dance. Adding a dash of spice (not so much that it overwhelms the other flavors) can turn your salad into an adventure.
Sprinkling in a little spice is not something new to the world of salads. Many enjoy some chipotle corn, a dash of sriracha, or maybe a pepper or two mixed with their greens. Alternatively, the spicy element can be found in the dressing.
If you want to camouflage the piquant elements to jolt your senses, the crouton is an excellent vehicle. It can be as simple as slipping a little Tabasco sauce into your homemade crouton recipe. Another sneaky way to get that zing is to season your croutons with ground cajun spices. Thai spices are also a great way to get that delightful tingle in your crunch.
Read the original article on Mashed.