I spent a long time trying to come up with a cool, interesting, sassy way to talk about croutons, but I don’t think there is one. Croutons are not particularly fascinating or sexy things. They’re toasted cubes of stale bread. No way around it. No two ways about it.
You probably don’t even like croutons that much. I know I didn’t until about a year ago, when I checked my prejudices and pickyness for exactly the twenty-five minutes it took to make these. Because I am grown-up and mature enough to cook things I don’t like for people who disagree with me. But a funny thing happened on the way to sucking it up: I tried one. Hot from the oven and impregnated with olive oil, parmesan cheese, and dizzying amounts of garlic.
I think you can all guess what happened then. (“Hi, I’m Natalie, and I’m addicted to croutons.”) If there is a stale nub of craggy, crusty bread in the house, it’s getting baked into croutons. And yes, if you ask me, it should be craggy, crusty bread — baguette, ciabatta, tuscan loafs, boules, that family. Not sandwich bread. We’ll talk about that tomorrow!
But hey, it’s your stale bread and your life. Crouton-ize what you want!
(As always in the “why buy it” category, measurements are approximate. Feel free to add fresh herbs, flavored olive oils, etc etc. Go wild.)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Cut your stale bread into bite-sized cubes. Some people also cut off the crusts, but I like the crunch.
For about 3 cups of bread, you’ll want:
- 3 – 4 tbsp olive oil (depending on how dry the bread is, you may need more or less)
- 3 tbsp finely grated parmesan
- 3 cloves of garlic, very finely chopped
- salt and pepper
In the bottom of a bowl, combine olive oil, cheese, garlic, and a big pinch each of salt and pepper. Add the bread and toss together until evenly coated. If it seems too dry, drizzle more olive oil on top.
Turn the bowl onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Spread the cubes into a single layer. If some look a little skimpily dressed, swipe them across the bottom of the bowl so they pick up some extra garlicy-cheese goodness.
Bake for 10-15 minutes until golden brown. Store in the fridge and use on salads, snacks, and parties.