Here’s a salad/sandwich combo that’s not boring

 
January 30th, 2012, 7:03 am
by Kathleen Luppi/OC Register

Croutons SaladThe panini and salad restaurant takes the humble healthy meal to a new level with 18 appealing choices. The Santa Fe ($5.45), a mix of apple, corn, red onion, toasted walnuts, smoked gouda and cornbread croutons, is an eye-catching option, as is the Napa Valley ($6.25). Cabernet vinaigrette, bacon and Swiss cheese on a heap of lettuce just might satisfy my hunger pangs, but to make the choice easier, I choose the geographic location I’d most like to visit. Mediterranean wins.

The combination of Mediterranean ingredients brings big flavor to the salad. Sliced cucumbers and tomatoes provide a crunch, as the julianne red peppers and red onion pronounce some spice. As the four make up the bulk of the salad, it’s the crumbles of feta, a handful of buttery pita croutons and splash of chilled Greek feta cheese vinaigrette that complete the well-sized portion.

I take advantage of the salad and sandwich deal for $7.75. Even a half portion of the salad is filling – until I unwrap my enticing Margherita chicken panini to complete my no-plane-ticket-necessary Mediterranean excursion.

Croutons margherita chicken paniniWith tempting looks of golden sourdough bread and fresh basil, I dig in to discover cheesy goodness below. Stringy Provolone cheese sticks to the top slice of pressed bread and layers of thinly cut oven-roasted chicken. The tastiness continues. Sun-dried tomatoes and creamy basil pesto mayonnaise finish the panini’s attractive presentation and deliciousness.

If you’re curious if you should climb an extra mile on the StairMaster, the website offers calorie counts. Chances are, the number won’t be that high, as the menu is pretty health-conscious.

It’s convenient that the restaurant is minutes away from office buildings and John Wayne Airport. Order the low-calorie, tasty lunch to-go, and you’re in for a good trip.  Even if it’s not to the Mediterranean.

Croutons
17927 MacArthur
Irvine
949-222-0911