Family favourite salad with homemade ranch dressing and croutons

  • For the salad
  • 1 head round lettuce, washed, spun dry and torn or cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1/2 head red leaf lettuce, washed, spun dry and torn or cut into bite-size pieces
  • 180ml ranch dressing, recipe follows
  • Croutons, recipe follows
  • 250g cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in 1/2
  • 2 ripe avocados, halved, pitted and flesh diced
  • 2 pieces bacon, cooked until crisp and crumbled
  • For the ranch dressing
  • 80ml sour cream
  • 120ml mayonnaise
  • 240ml buttermilk
  • 3 tbsp freshly chopped chives
  • 2 tbsp freshly chopped Italian parsley leaves
  • 1/2 tsp dried dill
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 tbsp white vinegar
  • 1 tbsp garlic paste (5 cloves garlic smashed with the flat side of a knife and 1/2 tsp salt, to make paste)
  • For the croutons
  • 1/2 tsp salt, plus more for sprinkling
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp dried parsley
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 2 tsp garlic paste (2 cloves garlic smashed with the flat side of a knife and a sprinkle of salt, to make paste)
  • 80ml extra-virgin olive oil
  • 100g stale Italian bread, cut into 2cm cubes
1) In a chilled salad bowl, add the greens and lightly coat the inside of the bowl with ranch dressing. Add the croutons and toss lightly.

2) Garnish with the tomatoes, avocado and bacon and serve immediately.

Ranch dressing:
1) In a medium bowl, combine the ingredients and blend well with fork or stick blender. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.

Croutons:
1) Preheat the oven to 170C/Gas 3. In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients, except the bread, until well combined. Adjust the seasoning, if needed.

2) Add in the bread and mix well with your hands, tossing to coat all sides of cubes. Pour out onto a baking sheet and spread evenly.

3) Bake in the oven for 20 to 30 minutes, turning after 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave to cool. Store in an airtight container.

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