I realize this post won’t be all that popular… I mean really… croutons? Yes. Croutons. Infinitely simple to prepare and, as an added bonus/incentive, they taste magnificent compared to the heavily salted, chemical laden, store-bought ones. Another plus is day old or stale bread no longer needs to be tossed. Non, non, au contraire! The pricey, bakery bread left over from last night’s dinner party can quickly be transformed to crisp, sumptuous chunks of delight to be enjoyed at YOUR leisure. Toss these croutons over a gorgeous green salad and you have dinner. Not quite ready to serve them? Throw them in the freezer and when your soup calls for that finishing touch, that little “something”, that je ne sais quoi, warm the croutons in the oven and your meal is, literally, topped off. I won’t even begin to tell you how good these are to munch on. Let’s pretend I never mentioned it. I find the more rustic or heavier the bread, the better the crouton. The more substantial breads yield a hefty crouton which can stand up to any restaurant crouton. Another benefit of homemade croutons is the seasonings can be changed at will. They can be savory or sweet. For savory, consider parmesan cheese, basil oil, Chinese five spice, garlic or even ranch. Sweet croutons may be added to yoghurt, poached fruit or ice cream. Cinnamon, apple pie spice or pumpkin pie spice would be lovely mixed with melted butted on cubed brioche or raisin bread. Certainly, the combinations are limitless. Up to you. But try it. Handmade croutons are a great hack. They won’t change your life but they’ll sure make it a little better!
Handmade Rosemary Olive Oil Croutons
- 1 pound rustic or country bread, preferably at least one day old
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary leaves
- freshly cracked black pepper
- 1/3-1/2 cup olive oil
- salt to taste
- Pre-heat oven to 375°.
- With a serrated knife, cut bread into cubes of desired size and place in a large bowl. I prefer larger croutons about 3/4 to 1 inch.
- To the bread, add the rosemary and black pepper and slowly drizzle the olive oil over the cubes.
- Toss well using your hands.
- Salt to taste and again toss well.
- Transfer bread to a large baking sheet and spread evenly in one layer.
- Bake for 10-12 minutes or until edges and corners are golden.
- Serve immediately if serving on soup or cool prior to scattering on salad.
- To freeze, cool completely, store in an airtight freezer bag and freeze. Warm in a pre-heated 300° oven for 5-7 minutes depending on the size of the cubes. Feel free to re-season with herbs prior to warming to freshen the flavor.