Croutons! Accessories for your Salad!
Homemade croutons are so easy to make and so damn good, I’m surprised more people don’t make them. Well, I imagine they don’t make them anyway. I guess I don’t know for sure. I haven’t taken a formal poll or survey. In fact, the thought of making homemade croutons never even occurred to me, until the restaurant I was working at a billion years ago ran out of croutons and the food order wasn’t expected until the next day. Not having croutons wasn’t an option; people need their croutons. So, one of the cooks, who is extremely talented in the kitchen, whipped up a batch to get us through the night. The wait staff couldn’t stop eating them. After that day, I thought that the restaurant should make their own croutons from scratch all the time. You’d be more apt to eat a salad, right? Well, sadly, they went back to getting croutons from a bag for the convenience factor. I do understand the appeal of convenience. But for those of you who don’t own a restaurant, you really should consider making your own croutons. It’s so simple; I don’t know why you wouldn’t want to! Not to mention that you probably have everything you need to make them. Think about how many pieces of moldy bread, or heels, that you’ve thrown away in your life. When the bread is getting a little stale, or it’s just been around too long, it’s time to make some croutons.
What you need:
Your favorite seasoning
A large bowl
A cutting board
10-15 minutes of prep time
20-25 minutes of down time
And that’s it! This recipe is modified from America’s Test Kitchen’s Garlic Croutons. We picked up a sliced loaf of Rye bread. Jeff figured that he really like rye in his beer, so why not give it a go in his croutons. You don’t have to use rye if you don’t like it. Use whatever bread you have around. Whole grain bread is the best.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut the bread into uniform cubes, about 4-5 cups. Circumstances prevented us from making our croutons until about 5 days after we bought our bread. Magically, the loaf was a bit smaller than when we had bought it. Someone had (who often hungers when she returns from work) ate a few slices. I blame Jeff (She always blames me). Thankfully we had more than enough bread. This recipe is bread-thief proof. Whisk 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil, 2 teaspoons chopped garlic, ¼ teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon of your favorite seasoning in the large bowl you got out of the cupboard. Place the bread on top of the oil-seasoning mixture, and stir with a large spoon until the bread is evenly coated with the mixture. Spread onto a cookie sheet, and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown. You’ll want to turn the croutons about halfway through baking, to make sure all the sides get good and crispy. It’s better that way. I know you’ll be tempted to eat them right out of the oven, but give them a few minutes to cool. I’d feel bad if you burn your tongue. Jeff wouldn’t though. He said, “If you don’t know that stuff that comes out of the oven is too hot to eat, then you deserve to burn your tongue.”
And that’s all there is to it! Be sure to experiment with different flavors. Let us know what you come up with!