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Pizza Salad with Homemade Gluten-Free Croutons is a fresh and filling entree salad packed with pizza flavor. Homemade gluten-free croutons add a satisfying crunch.

Pizza Salad with Homemade Gluten-Free Croutons is a fresh and filling entree salad packed with pizza flavor. Homemade gluten-free croutons add a satisfying crunch. | iowagirleats.com

As they say, life is short, so my advice is…

  • Buy the shoes sunglasses
  • Take the trip
  • Quit your unfulfilling job
  • Make the leap
  • Wake up early
  • Call him (or her!)
  • Say I love you
  • Pick your battles
  • Wear comfortable clothes
  • Laugh out loud
  • Eat full-fat everything
  • Skip the commercials
  • Hold on tight
  • Drink good coffee
  • Listen carefully
  • EAT THE PIZZA

Un-blotted, extra cheese, three slices, please!

Side note: I read an article on Gluten Dude the other day that got my blood boiling (this one rendered it molten hot.) Literally one minute after it came down to a simmer Ben (innocently) texted me about the epic bowl of ramen he’d just devoured for lunch. Oy vey! Because I have Celiac Disease, food is never an afterthought in my world. It’s the main event all day, everyday. Unfortunately I can’t escape it, and don’t know if I ever will, but little things that help take the edge off the mental stress this disease causes are little rays of sunshine in my life. Like the fact that wine is naturally gluten-free.

Actually I think that gets Heavenly beam status. ??

I’ve mentioned many times here on IGE that Friday night, since I was a little girl, and like millions of Americans, is pizza night at our house and it was a punch in the gut not being able to pick up the phone and dial the delivery man after having to go gluten-free in 2013. Things have changed for the better over the past six months or so though because we found a nearby restaurant, Club Car, with a gluten-free kitchen that makes the best pizzas. Talk about ray of sunshine! Thanks to this mom and pop shop, I can chow down on Friday pizza with zero hesitation, zero worry, and 100% excitement. Of course I can make delicious GF pizza at home, but there’s something about being able to order it that’s just so…normal.

Every Friday evening I call in our order then Ben picks the pizzas up on his way home (lid open to prevent a soggy crust!) and then we proceed to feast like old times. I cannot tell you how awesome it feels to simply, as I said, EAT THE PIZZA without a second thought. I may have teared up the first time he brought the boxes home! Ok that’s a little dramatic, but it was big time.

Anyway, how ridiculous that I’m telling you all this (those articles seriously ignited a fire in my soul,) and not even sharing an actual pizza recipe with you today (forgive me!?) That said, I’ve got the next best thing – Pizza Salad with Homemade Gluten-Free Croutons. Because life is short so yes, you should definitely eat the pizza, but when you need a boost of vegetables in your day, shouldn’t they at least taste like pizza!?

Pizza Salad with Homemade Gluten-Free Croutons is a fresh and filling entree salad packed with pizza flavor. Homemade gluten-free croutons add a satisfying crunch. | iowagirleats.com

Here’s the scoop – mixed greens are tossed with my favorite pizza-friendly ingredients including tomatoes, pepperoni (if you’ve never had pepperoni in a salad…prepare yourself,) black olives, fresh basil, mozzarella cheese, parmesan cheese, Italian Vinaigrette, and homemade gluten-free croutons. Because what’s pizza without a little crunch? I tell you what, I have never been a crouton girl but I ate almost half the pan before assembling a single Pizza Salad. No shame in my homemade gluten-free crouton game!!

I’ve been eating this salad for lunches lately and it is such a satisfying mid-day meal. Full of flavor, freshness, and texture, and the croutons even stay crispy if you want to assemble these salads mason-jar style to take to work with you. If you and your family make your own pizzas every week and for someone reason you just don’t WANT to EAT THE PIZZA (hey, I get it!) just snag some of the toppings them sprinkle them over a bed of lettuce instead. Boom, Pizza Salad. Gluten-Free or not, you’ll devour it!

Pizza Salad with Homemade Gluten-Free Croutons is a fresh and filling entree salad packed with pizza flavor. Homemade gluten-free croutons add a satisfying crunch. | iowagirleats.com

There’s really only one main step to making this salad and that’s baking the homemade gluten-free croutons using whatever gluten-free bread you have on hand. I always have a loaf of Canyon Bakehouse Mountain White Bread in the freezer. It’s the only GF bread I can get my hands on here that’s worth buying (aka it’s doughy and soft vs crumbly and hard,) and I find it in the health food/special diet freezer section of the grocery store, though Super Target sells it in their bakery section.

Whatever you’re going with, slice the bread into cubes, like this!

Pizza-Salad-with-Homemade-Gluten-Free-Croutons-iowagirleats-04

Next, brush or mist a half sheet pan with extra virgin olive oil then add the cubes and toss with 3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil until each cube is evenly coated in oil, adding up to 1 more Tablespoon oil if needed. Next toss the cubes with 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning, 1/4 teaspoon garlic salt, and a pinch of regular salt, then toss again to coat. Bake for 16-20 minutes at 325 degrees, stirring halfway through, or until the croutons are brown and crispy.

Pizza-Salad-with-Homemade-Gluten-Free-Croutons-iowagirleats-05

Last stop, salad assembly! To a bed of lettuce (I used Spring Mix but use whatever you like best,) add halved grape or cherry tomatoes, pepperonis, sliced black olives, mozzarella cheese pearls, freshly grated parmesan cheese, the croutons, and a drizzle of your favorite Italian Vinaigrette. I recommend and am obsessed with my Italian Vinaigrette. Yum. Oh, if you want an extra punch of pizza flavor, sprinkle a bit of dried oregano on top before digging in. Trust me. :)

Thanks for listening today, and more importantly, enjoy!

Pizza Salad with Homemade Gluten-Free Croutons is a fresh and filling entree salad packed with pizza flavor. Homemade gluten-free croutons add a satisfying crunch. | iowagirleats.com

Pizza Salad with Homemade Gluten-Free Croutons

Description

Pizza Salad with Homemade Gluten-Free Croutons is a fresh and filling entree salad packed with pizza flavor. Homemade gluten-free croutons add a satisfying crunch.

Ingredients

serves 4

  • 9-10oz Spring Mix lettuce (or your favorite blend)
  • 2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 3/4 cup lightly-packed fresh basil, chopped (or more or less)
  • 8oz mozzarella cheese pearls
  • 4oz pepperoni, chopped (I like Applegate Naturals)
  • 4oz sliced black olives, drained
  • Italian dressing
  • Freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • pinch dried oregano
  • For the Homemade Gluten-Free Croutons:
    • 4 cups cubed fresh gluten-free bread
    • 3-4 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
    • 1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
    • pinch salt

Directions

  1. For the Homemade Gluten-Free Croutons: Preheat oven to 325 degrees then lightly spray or brush a half sheet pan with extra virgin olive oil. Add bread cubes then drizzle with 3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil and toss with fingers to coat every cube in oil (add up to 1 more Tablespoon oil if needed.) Add Italian seasoning, garlic salt, oregano, and regular salt then toss to combine and spread the bread cubes out evenly. Bake for 16-20 minutes, stirring halfway through, or until croutons are deep golden brown. Set aside to cool. Can be done a day ahead of time - cool completely before storing in an airtight container.
  2. Divide lettuce, tomatoes, basil, mozzarella cheese, pepperoni, black olives, and croutons between four plates then top with Italian dressing, fresh parmesan cheese, and dried oregano before serving.

Notes

  • I recommend dressing this salad with my Best-Ever Italian Vinaigrette >
  • Add or swap out your favorite pizza toppings like green pepper, pineapple, ham, etc

This recipe is courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats, http://iowagirleats.com.

Pizza Salad with Homemade Gluten-Free Croutons is a fresh and filling entree salad packed with pizza flavor. Homemade gluten-free croutons add a satisfying crunch. | iowagirleats.com