Thursday, February 10, 2011

Simple Croutons

Ever since I started baking my own bread a year ago, I've occasionally experienced an annoying surplus of bread. The ends of the loaves dry out in my fridge and then I've no idea what to do with it. I hate throwing it away--that's wasteful, and I feel an attachment to it anyway, because it was made my by own hands.

There's an excerpt in The River Cottage Bread Handbook--a book I own and refer to frequently--that has a long list of various uses for old bread. The most useful of these suggestions is to make croutons.

Simple Croutons

Preheat oven to 350. Prep time: 10 minutes. Bake time: 10-20 minutes.

  • Dry crusty bread
  • Olive oil
Tear or slice the croutons into little chunks. My size preference is for 1-2 cm cubes (approximately).

In a big mixing bowl, drizzle the bread with olive oil and toss. The pieces should be slightly moistened on the outside, but not soaked.

Arrange the bread on a baking sheet and bake until golden brown. Allow to cool then store in a lidded container or gallon bag.

That's it! Of course, this recipe can be altered in any number of ways. The croutons can be garlicked (I maybe made up that word, just now) or salted, sprinkled with Parmesan or some other cheese, baked with herbs, whatever. I sometimes add salt but I like the versatility of plain croutons. These croutons make tasty, crunchy snacks, they are delicious in soups and salads, and when a recipe calls for breadcrumbs, I pop croutons in the blender or food processor.

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