Homemade croutons are a great way to re-purpose leftover bread. I first started making these after sourdough bread became a regular thing in our house. Because sometimes we just don’t get around to finishing a whole loaf. You all know how I hate throwing away good food. Which is why I always try to find a way to re-purpose food into something different and yummy.
So, I came up with these croutons the first time because I had part of a loaf of sourdough and I didn’t want it to go to waste. Since there was almost half the loaf left, I ended making quite a few croutons. I served an entrée salad with protein, using the croutons, and I was very happy with them. Then I stored what was left (which was most of it) in a Ziploc bag.
I placed the bag in a tiered bronze basket I keep on my kitchen island. That was where Matt, who was still living at home at the time, found them sometime after dinner and before bedtime. He opened the bag and consumed every crouton on the spot. When I teased him, saying “those aren’t chips, you know”, he responded “no, they’re better”. Hmmm….. Mom’s crouton snacks were born.
After that, I made croutons out of leftover sourdough loaves for snacking alone. And I have to tell you, I agree with Matt. They ARE better than chips. I’m talking crusty and savory on the outside, chewy and sourdoughy on the inside.
And they are SO versatile! Sure, you can snack on them like chips. You can also add them to a cheese or charcuterie plate. Or you can dry them out and process them down to make homemade Italian bread crumbs.
They are so good I no longer keep them when I make them. Because I can’t resist them, snacking on the bag compulsively until the very last one is gone.
So, if you have ever made or purchased an artisanal sourdough loaf and then felt bad when it did not get fully eaten, this recipe is for you!
So let’s make mom’s crouton snacks!
Steve came home from business travel Friday afternoon, and I planned a meal with fresh sourdough bread. The next day, I assembled an amazing sandwich (which I will HAVE to blog, it was so good) for us for lunch. But since there are just the two of us, I still had this much bread left.
Yeah…mom’s crouton snacks were on the way.
This is all you need for something truly delicious.
Right? I know, it’s amazingly simple!
In a large bowl, add half of the ingredients to the cubed bread and toss. Add salt and cracked pepper to taste and toss again. Then add the second half and toss until the bread is completely coated in olive oil, seasonings, and cheese. Taste for seasonings and adjust salt and pepper, if necessary.
Meanwhile, heat a seasoned 10-inch cast iron skillet to medium heat.
Toss in the bread and spread into as much of a single layer as possible.
Flip the croutons every two minutes or so to ensure that all sides get a nice bit of sear. Frequent flipping prevents burning any one side of a crouton as well as achieving an even sear on as many sides as possible. This keeps the outside crispy and the centers chewy.
Then remove the croutons from the flame and allow them to cool in the cast iron skillet on a rack.
I like to cool the croutons in the skillet because it helps maintain the crispy outsides. Just toss them occasionally to keep them from sweating, as well as to expedite the cooling.
When they are cooled, use them however you want. Add them to a salad, serve them as a snack. It’s your call.
I have to disclose that they totally rock with a cold glass of beer. And I’m not even a beer drinker!
True to my earlier admission that I give these away to save myself from my own non-stop, compulsive consumption, I got rid of them (after Steve and I snagged a couple). I called Sam and discovered he was off work. So, Dad and I dropped in for a quick visit and took him some treats.
I handed Sam the bag of croutons when we arrived and then Steve and I moved to the couch to chat. Although he claimed to eat only 10 or so, that boy ate about 4 cups of croutons in 10 minutes before deciding he had better save the rest for later.
Yeah, these crouton snacks rock!
- 8 cups crusty sourdough bread (cut into 1-inch cubes)
- 8 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 1½ teaspoons dry Italian herbs, divided
- 4 teaspoons grated Parmesan cheese, divided
- Cracked black pepper
- In a large bowl, toss the bread cubes with half the olive oil, Italian herbs, and Parmesan.
- Add a pinch of salt and cracked pepper to taste.
- Toss again
- Add the remaining olive oil, Italian herbs, and Parmesan.
- Toss well until evenly distributed.
- Taste for seasoning and adjust for salt and pepper as needed.
- Heat a seasoned cast iron skillet to medium heat.
- Pour the seasoned croutons into the heated pan and spread into an even layer.
- Flip the croutons every 2 minutes or so to ensure even searing on all sides.
- Grill the croutons in the skillet for about 10 minutes or until the outsides are golden and crispy while the insides are still chewy.
- Remove from the heat and place the skillet on a cooling rack, stirring occasionally to assist in cooling and to keep the croutons from sweating and becoming soggy.
- Serve as a salad topping, as a snack, or dry out and process into Italian bread crumbs.