I love bread. I mean, I seriously love bread so much that I rarely buy it fresh, and when I do I buy an extra loaf to eat on the way home. If I had a plan for world domination, all someone would have to do would be to to leave a truckload of fresh bread on my doorstep and I’d never be heard from again. Sometimes when I buy bread I freeze half to prevent myself from eating it in a single sitting. And sometimes I forget about it as it gets pushed to the the back of the freezer, only to stumble across it weeks later when it is far past its prime.
But in this house we do not throw out bread. We make delicious, crunchy croutons! And we do it in like 20 minutes, because the faster we can get them out of the oven and into our mouths the better. Have you ever gone to a restaurant and ordered a salad only to have it come with these extra large croutons that are delectably crunchy and not at all oily but full of flavor? If you have you’ve probably wondered exactly where they found these little squares of crouton perfection. Wonder no more, because those are exactly the kind of croutons we are going to make!
First you’ll need a loaf of italian or french bread, and you want it to be stale. Bread you’ve purchased the day before and left out on the counter, or some that you’ve stashed in the freezer will work well.
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.
Cut the bread into (roughly) one inch cubes. Some people like to toss them in a bowl with olive oil. I prefer not to, since some of them will come out greasy and it is hard to coat them evenly. Instead, I spread them out in a single layer on a large baking sheet and give them a light spray with olive oil cooking spray. You can do either.
Sprinkle the bread with salt, freshly ground pepper and garlic (or pretty much any seasoning you like, red pepper flakes are one of my favorites).
Stick that tray into the oven for 8-12 minutes. You want to keep them in there until they are a golden brown color, giving them time to get nice and crunchy.
Remove them and store in an airtight container.
I love them in soup or on a salad… although they are tasty enough to eat by themselves and I am pretty sure I derailed my New Year’s healthy eating resolution more than once by polishing off a container of these in one sitting.
The best part is that you can season them differently depending on your mood, or the meal you’re serving them with. How would you season your perfect crouton?