Little Gem Salad with Toasted Spice Vinaigrette

Toasting whole spices deepens and opens up their flavors, perfuming and flavoring this dressing. Use leftover dressing as a marinade for chicken or fish.

Little Gem Salad with Toasted Spice Vinaigrette Recipe
Photo: Eva Kolenko
Total Time:
30 mins
4 to 6



  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds

  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds

  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard or whole-grain mustard

  • 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper


  • 8 ounces (1/2-inch-thick) day-old sourdough bread slices (about 4 slices), torn into 1-inch pieces (about 5 cups)

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

  • 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt


  • 4 medium Little Gem lettuce heads (about 1 1/2 pounds), leaves separated

  • 1 cup mixed fresh edible flowers (such as nasturtium, borage, or chive flowers)

  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, cilantro, or basil


Make the dressing

  1. Toast coriander, cumin, and fennel in a small skillet over medium, stirring often, until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Remove from skillet; let cool 5 minutes. Transfer mixture to a spice grinder, and process until finely ground, about 10 seconds (or finely crush spice mixture using a mortar and pestle). Whisk together ground spices, oil, vinegar, lemon juice, mustard, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Cover and chill until ready to use, up to 3 days.

Make the croutons

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Toss together bread, oil, and salt on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper until evenly coated. Bake in preheated oven until golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes, stirring once halfway through bake time.

  2. Place lettuce leaves and half of the croutons in a large bowl; add dressing, and toss to coat. Transfer salad to a large platter; sprinkle evenly with edible flowers, herbs, and remaining croutons.

Suggested Pairing

Tarragon-scented, lemony Sauvignon Blanc.

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