- April 10, 2012 |
- by Kirstin Uhrenholdt
Why don’t we elevate that hunk of old bread on your counter into something irresistible? All it takes is a tear or a slice, a drizzle of olive oil, salt and a hot oven and suddenly what was stale and forlorn has become that tasty bite you hunt for in your salad.
Depending on its shape, a crouton can bring comfort, crunch, even class to your table. It can be large and bold, torn with raggedy crunchy edges and a heart of chew. It can be thin, crisp and delicate like a window pane, or it can be as small as a crunchy crumb, perfect for giving a surprising sound to dish.
Any chunk of leftover bread, dark or light
First, tear, cut, slice or chop the bread into the right size for you. Then simply toss with a generous glug of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt.
Bake in a 350º oven until crisp, turning them now and then. If they are large it will 15-25 minutes, if they are small it will take less time, so just keep an eye on them.
Optional flavorings to toss with before baking:
* A dry grated cheese like Parmesan
* Some minced garlic
* A shake of curry powder
* Lemon juice and lemon zest
* Freshly chopped herbs (if you want them to stay green toss them with the croutons after they have been baked)
* A little of the salad dressing you are using
* Crunchy seeds like poppy, flax or sesame
The large and bold, torn into two bite sizes:
* Place in the middle of the bowl to give soup a heart.
* Toss into substantial salads with a robust dressing.
* Serve warm to sop up the sauce of your favorite stew.
The thin and delicate, sliced into triangle points, or cut into rounds with a wineglass:
* Serve on the side of a poached egg.
* Use for dips and spreads.
* Nestle among leaves of a tender green salad.
Tiny crunchy crumb croutons, chopped with a knife or in a food processor:
* Toss into shredded salads.
* Use atop roasted vegetables or gratins.
* Toss on pasta dishes for crunch instead of cheese.