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Most croutons are miniature cubes. Some crouton lovers would like them much larger: more flavor, more crunch.
And they certainly make salads more fun.
So today’s tip is. Make jumbo croutons. They make salads more fun. And you can customize the flavors each time, so there’s no “crouton fatigue.”
Pick your bread. While baguette is a standard, you can use whole grain, seeded, raisin-semolina or whatever you like.
Pick your texture. Crunchier croutons come from drier bread. For the crispest crouton, use day-old or two-day-old bread. Fresh bread takes longer to dry out in the oven; so if that’s what you have, adjust the baking time accordingly.
Use a flavored oil. If you have basil oil, chili oil, etc., use it to add more flavor. Whatever oil you select, more oil creates a heavier, more sumptuous crouton.
Spice it up. Herbs and spices take your croutons in any direction you like, from the heat of cayenne or red pepper flakes, to the elegance of fines herbes, to exotic notes of curry or Chinese five spice. One of our favorites is toasted sesame seed. You can also add grated cheese.
GENERAL CROUTON TIPS
RECIPE: GARLIC CROUTONS
1 baguette or ficelle*
1/4 cup olive oil or melted butter
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
Pinch of salt
5-8 cloves of garlic, minced
Make jumbo croutons any shape you like. These are crouton “fingers.” Photo courtesy MorningStar Farms.
*Ficelle is slender French loaf, thinner than a baguette, no more than two inches wide. The word is French for “string.” It’s a better shape if you want to make round croutons with a diameter of two inches or so.
1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Cut the bread into rounds or fingers.
2. TOSS the ingredients in a large bowl, coating bread thoroughly. Bake until toasted to your preference (light or dark), 15-20 minutes.
3. PREPARE and dress the salad. Top with warm croutons and serve. You can store croutons in an airtight container for a day or two.
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