April 24, 2012

Treat Bag Tuesday - Simple & Savoury Croutons

So, upon returning home from over a week away with the kids, my hubby says to me  "Oh by the way, we need to get groceries.  But not bread.  I never touched the stuff that was in the cupboard."

Oh honey. 

Two full loaves of bread just sitting there, really stale.  And being the penny-pincher I am, the thought of just throwing them away made my heart sad.

What's a girl to do?

Make croutons. 

(And a baked french toast... but I'll save that one for next week.  wink wink)

This is soooooo easy to do.  And soooooo versatile.  Really, you can just use whatever you have in your cupboards - whatever spices, vinegars, and oils you want. 

I just used regular whole wheat sandwich bread (the cheapo kind from the grocery store) because that's what was sitting in my cupboard, but I've also done these with crusty breads, pumpernickel, and whatever else... since the base flavours are so flexible, they always turn out great.

Simple & Savoury Croutons

One loaf bread
1/4 cup vegetable / olive oil
1/4 cup dijon mustard
1/8 cup balsamic vinegar
dried spices, to your taste - I used garlic powder, minced onion, basil, and paprika
salt and pepper (fresh ground is best!)

Preheat your oven to 225 degrees.

Cube your whole loaf into small (approximately 1/2") pieces.  Spread them out onto a large baking sheet.  Try to spread them out as evenly as possible, but don't worry if they mound up a little.

Pop that sheet into your preheated oven.  Let the bread dry out and crisp up, turning them with a spatula about every 5 minutes or so, so they can bake evenly.  When they are all nice and crisp (probably about 20 minutes), take them out and set aside to cool.

While your bread is cooling, take a large bowl (big enough to handle all your croutons), and whisk together your oil, mustard, and vinegar.  Add some spices, salt, and pepper, and whisk some more. 

Transfer your bread cubes into the bowl, and use a large spoon to toss them around in your mustard/vinegar mixture until they're fairly evenly coated.  They shouldn't be sopping, but they should have a visible amount of the mixture on the surface.  If you feel that there isn't enough liquid to cover them properly, go ahead and mix up some more, drizzle it on top, and toss them some more. 

As I toss them, I also like to sprinkle some more spices on them.  Don't be scared to add lots - you want these little babies to pack a big punch of flavour!!

When you're happy with your spices and such, spread them back out onto your baking sheet.  Place them back into the oven to bake off some more, turning them occasionally so they can dry out nicely. 

And you're done!

Keep them stored in an airtight container or resealable bag.  They should keep for a couple of weeks... I always end up snacking on mine and they're usually gone within a few days.


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