On Thanksgiving and Christmas, start that special meal with smoked salmon and arugula salad. White Cheese and herbed croutons add so much oomph. Toss with lime honey mustard dressing for the perfect blend of flavors.
The idea came from an episode of Brunch @Bobby’s which airs on Food Network. We still often flinch when we see Bobby Flay on TV, we still switch channels fast when we come across his other shows but, we have to admit, he knows his brunch dishes and he does them well. His spinach salad with smoked salmon, everything bagel croutons and lemon-caper vinaigrette was just wow!
This smoked salmon and arugula salad with white cheese and herbed croutons, however, is not an exact replication of his recipe. Spinach was used in the original recipe; I used arugula. Because arugula has much bolder flavors than spinach, I decided to ditch the onions. Fennel costs an arm and a leg in my part of the world so its exclusion was a no-brainer.
Skipping on cream cheese, the white cheese I used for this salad is the Filipino kesong puti made from carabao’s milk. If unavailable in your area, the closest substitutes would be ricotta and cottage cheese.
For an introduction to herbed croutons, click here. We’ve been making them for years but the idea of adding seeds to the croutons is new to us. Sesame seeds add aroma, a beautiful nutty flavor and tiny crunches with every forkful of salad.
For best results, use baby arugula which is less bitter but still with all that peppery goodness. The stalks are more tender too.
For the salad dressing
For the croutons
For the salad
- 1/4 cup chopped cashew nuts
- 3 to 4 cups baby arugula
- 1 cup smoked salmon
- 100 grams kesong puti (Filipino white cheese) or substitute ricotta or cottage cheese
Make the salad dressing
- In a mixing bowl, whisk together the mustard, honey, lime juice, lime zest and dill.
- Pour in the olive oil slowly in a thin stream, whisking as you pour.
- Add salt and pepper. Whisk. Set the salad dressing aside to allow the flavors to develop.
Make the herbed croutons
- Cut the bread into one-inch cubes.
- Place the bread cubes in a bowl. Drizzle the olive oil over them. Sprinkle in the salt and pepper. Toss thoroughly.
- Place a large frying pan on the stove. Set the heat to medium-low.
- Spread the oiled bread cubes in the pan. Cook without disturbing for a minute or so to allow the undersides to brown.
- Stir the bread cubes. Cook for another two to three minutes, stirring often, until all sides are lightly browned.
- Add the sesame seeds to the bread bread cubes. Continue cooking for another minute. Toss the contents of the pan often to keep the sesame seeds moving to prevent them from burning.
- Sprinkle the dill over the croutons and cool while you prepare the salad.
Complete the salad
- Toast the chopped cashew nuts in an oil-free pan until lightly browned and glistening with the nuts' own oil. Set aside to cool.
- Tear off the root ends of the arugula. Rinse well. Dry in a salad spinner.
- Tear the smoked salmon and kesong puti into bite-size pieces.
- Pour a quarter of the salad dressing into a large mixing bowl. Add the salmon, arugula, croutons, cheese and nuts. Drizzle in another quarter of the salad dressing. Toss to coat every ingredient with dressing.
- Divide the salad among four bowls. Drizzle with more dressing before serving.
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