Thursday, June 23, 2011

homemade:: croutons

This time of year we have salads every day - our garden is brimming with greens and we love that. And for variety and flavor, I like home made croutons.

We don't eat a lot of bread, but we do like having a good loaf of sourdough or home made grain bread for toast, sandwiches and ... croutons! We usually go through half the loaf before it is getting stale. Perfect for croutons. We like the seasoned super flavorful crunchy big croutons, and this recipe is just that.

Croutons fall into the category of recipe that is ever changing, not exact, always flexible. You like less seasoning, your bread has more moisture this batch, you have certain herbs on hand, etc. Just tweak it and find just how you like it.


2 cups cubed few day old bread
1/4 - 1/2 cup good extra virgin olive oil (depending on how dry the bread is)
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
a few cloves of very finely minced fresh garlic
Seasoning mix:: Use what you have/what you like.

Here is what I most often use::
Up to 1/4 cup of dried herbs. Mine usually includes garlic powder, onion powder, thyme, rosemary, oregano, parsley, basil. I also love a pinch of yellow curry powder , Spanish paprika, or a few crushed red pepper flakes if I want some spice. I use some of our own dried herbs from the garden, and also love the garlic & herb blend we find in bulk at our local Italian Deli.

Cut about 2 cups of few day old bread into cubes. We like 1"+ chunks, you can do smaller if you like. The better the bread, the better the croutons. We like using sourdough, rye, baguette, focaccia. GF bread works great too.

Put the bread in a large bowl. Mix the olive oil and freshly minced garlic in a small bowl. Pour over the bread and toss quickly - keep stirring and tossing until all the bread is coated. If it seems dry, add a little more. Don't skimp on the oil - these are not the break your teeth dry cardboard croutons - good olive oil saturation really helps keep them crunchy but yet easy to eat, and it needs to be moist enough for the herbs to adhere to. Working quickly sprinkle the salt, pepper and herb mixture in, tossing as you go.

Spread onto a pan and toast at 400ºF for 10-20 minutes. Once again, it depends on how dry/stale your bread was. Turn and stir gently at least once. When the croutons are crunchy remove them from the oven. Let cool and store in air tight container.

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