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Salad Croutons

We bake our own fresh bread in our house almost every day. Every now and then we get a leftover edge that is either starting to stale or just simply gets left behind in favor of the new, warm, fresh loaf that just came out of the oven. So the question is, what to do with the ‘nubs’?!  (And what is it about the word ‘nub’ that always makes me want to giggle?? Am I the only one?)

On the rare occasion that we have an actual leftover slice or two of bread, we turn it into french toast or a mini bread pudding. For the edge nubs though, it’s croutons all the way! Croutons are so remarkably simple to make up fresh, it’s almost silly to ever buy them at the store unless you plan on going through massive quantities all at once!

Homemade Croutons - pre-baking

I like to make up my croutons as I need them, I can’t seem to get them to store too awfully well (though I would LOVE any suggestions on that front…). Today I wanted a salad for lunch so I sliced up a leftover stale nub from Saturday’s bread into little hunks and then mixed up my seasonings. I eyeball the seasonings because I make such a small quantity, but no matter how much you make at a time, the ratios should generally reflect this mix:

Spinach salad with homemade croutons

Homemade Croutons

Leftover or staled bread. (Fresh homemade bread, or store-bought works too. You would do MUCH better with a ‘bakery’ style bread than a ‘Wonder bread’ type though, there’s too much fluff and preservatives in the ‘Wonder’ type variety to get the proper result.)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/8 tsp chili powder
1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

(this quantity of seasoning will make enough croutons for approx 3 salads)

1. If you have a toaster oven, this is the perfect time to use it! If you’re using a conventional oven, get that sucker preheating up to around 300 degrees.
2. Add all your spices to a small bowl that is large enough to hold whatever quantity of bread you are trying to crouton-ize  ( 😉 ). Drizzle in the EVOO and with your fingers mix it all together so you get a sandy, gritty type paste.
3. Add in the cut up stale bread and again with your hands, toss the bread with the paste, make sure to wipe it off the bottom of the bowl and let the bread absorb the oil and get the seasonings pretty evenly distributed over all the bread pieces.
4. Line a baking sheet with foil (or the little tray that comes with the toaster oven) and toss your seasoned bread on. Let it cook in the oven for roughly 10 minutes, making sure to mix it up a bit half way so the croutons toast evenly on all sides. You’ll have to keep an eye on them, depending on how big your pieces are, how stale the bread is, and how heavily oiled they are – it may cook a little faster or slower. So use your judgement, not the clock!

While my croutons are baking up, I like to start preparing my salad and getting everything ready. Then when the croutons are done I just pop them in the bowl, dress the salad, and dig right in! Yum!

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