Because I always watch what I eat (calorie-wise) I tend not to add croutons to the salads I make. Further, the store bought croutons that I’ve added in the past were always a disappointment at best. Dry, flavorless and small. If I’m going to splurge than I want to eat a big, crisp, flavor-drenched crouton that has been softened ever-so-slightly be the salad’s dressing. I have, on occasion, experienced these at restaurants that make their own.
A few weeks ago I finally decided “enough is enough”. I may not eat them every night in my home but occasionally I want those delicious, croutons-on-steriods with my meal. As I started serving them on our salads when we had company and I was surprised by how many times I received compliments on them. The salad seemed just ‘a little more special’ because of it. I guess, at times, it is the ‘Little Touches’ that make the biggest impact.
- 4 cups of 1″ bread cubes*
- 4 T. melted butter**
- 1 1/2 T. dried oregano
- 2 T. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 375F.
Put the bread cubes in a large bowl. Drizzle with the melted butter and add the oregano and Parmesan cheese. Mix well. Then mix some more. Then lightly press some of the cubes against the sides/bottom of the dish to ensure that they absorb all possible flavor.
Bake for 5 -7 minutes and take out of the oven to check. If nicely browned flip them over and continue to bake another 5 – 7 minutes. Otherwise, bake another 2 minutes and then flip and and continue to bake as above. Serve same day and store left-over in an airtight container***.
* Use whatever bread you like: Italian, French, White, etc. If you are going to use pre-sliced bread look for ‘thick-sliced’ varieties.
** I made multiple batches of croutons with butter and croutons with olive oil to see which I prefered. Hands down the butter had more flavor and browned faster/better. But of course it is up to personal taste and/or diet preferences. If you’d prefer to use olive oil just substitute 4 T. olive oil (you can go as low as 3 T. if you’d like).
***Depending on the humidity level in your home, how dried out your bread was before you bake the croutons, how long you baked the croutons, etc. the croutons in the airtight container might become a bit soft within a matter of days. No problem whatsoever. Simply toast them for 3-5 minutes in a 375F oven, before serving, to crisp them up again. (You can also put them in a 250F oven but it will take a bit longer – just watch them until you determine how long they need to be in there to crisp (start at about 12 minutes).
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