I love serving an enormous salad stuffed with all kinds of winter goodies for dinner. It's an excuse to eat my favorite, the sumo mandarin, alongside the most incredible croutons you've ever tasted. While I'm normally not a big fan of fruit salads, this one is hands down one of the most delicious salads I've ever eaten.
Combine the olive oil, butter, garlic, salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning in a large bowl. Tear the bread into bite sized chunks and place them in the bowl, swirling around to coat. Use your hands to press the bread into the seasoning to evenly coat. Spread on a sheet pan and bake until lightly golden and crispy, 20 minutes. Allow to cool while making the salad.
For the salad:
Dump up to 6 large handfuls of kale into a very large bowl -- note that this will serve about 4-6 people. Pile on the cucumbers, mandarin, bacon, apple, pear, and a handful of the croutons (reserve the rest in a bag for another salad).
Toss the salad with the shallot vinaigrette. Taste and adjust seasoning if desired. Serve immediately.
Learn from my mistakes and whatever you do, don't toss the salad dressing with more kale than you can eat in one sitting. I like to keep the salad greens and fruit in 1 container, the croutons in a separate bag, and the dressing in a separate container. This salad can serve 4 very hungry people or 6.