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I’m all for kitchen thrift, but I take exception to the notion that croutons, like bread crumbs, are a byproduct of a loaf (often one of indifferent quality) gone stale-verging-on-rock-hard. When you start with top-drawer bread that’s no more than a day old, use good olive oil, and toast the bread with care, you have something that is far more than a garnish, let alone an afterthought. What you have is the underpinning for a meal.

What you have is crouton salad. This is nothing new: It’s basically a Tuscan panzanella with crisper bread. But it is a godsend when potatoes, rice, or pasta don’t appeal, all you see in the vegetable crisper is half a bunch of kale or a handful of parsley, or if you are feeding someone who feels that he never gets quite enough croutons in a classic Caesar.

The salad you see above has been in rotation in our household for about a month now. It’s a spin on the famous kale salad at Lupa restaurant, still going strong down on Thompson Street. In place of the pine nuts, you could add snowy shards of ricotta salata or long curls of Parmigiano-Reggiano.

This evening, crouton salad with kale is going alongside salted-and-peppered chicken thighs, roasted until golden brown and very crisp on top. (They really are impossible to ruin.) Because my sweet Sam has been working outside all day, clearing away some of Sandy’s debris, he’ll be hungry and dog-tired. It seems only right, then, to fry up a few thick strips of bacon or a thin slice of country ham and add that to the mix. By the time Sam takes off his boots and washes up, our home will smell wonderful. “Are you ready?” I ask. “No need to rush. I’ll make you a plate.”

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