Little Gem Salad with Crispy Pancetta and Breadcrumbs

A wonderful choice for your holiday menu!  Our little gem salad is easy, quick and just fancy enough that everyone will ask you for your recipe.  Don’t pass this one up!  Note, this recipe is easily gluten free by subbing out the panko breadcrumbs for a gluten free version.

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Little Gem Salad with Crispy Pancetta and Breadcrumbs

Course: Salads
Keyword: Under 30 Minutes, Weeknight Meals
Servings: 4 servings
Author: Denise



  • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 4 oz pancetta diced
  • 2 romaine hearts chopped
  • 1 cup basil leaves removed from stems
  • 1 1/2 cups grape tomatoes diced


  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 shallot minced
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup verju or red wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper

To Serve:

  • Parmesan cheese shaved


  • Heat butter over medium heat in small nonstick skillet.  Once melted, add breadcrumbs.  Use a spoon or spatula to coat breadcrumbs with melted butter.  Turn heat down to low and cook breadcrumbs until golden brown, approximately 5 minutes.  Move around frequently so they don’t burn.  Set aside when done.
  • Wipe out skillet and return to stove over medium heat.  Cook pancetta until lightly browned, roughly 7-8 minutes.  Use a slotted spoon and remove pancetta from pan.  Lay on paper towel to absorb remaining grease.
  • In a large salad bowl, combine romaine, basil leaves, tomatoes, pancetta and half of breadcrumbs.
  • In a small bowl, combine ingredients for dressing and whisk.   Pour half of dressing over salad and toss.
  • When serving salad, provide remaining dressing and breadcrumbs to allow each person to garnish and dress as desired.  Top with grated Parmesan.
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