June 4, 2012 in Cooking with Woolies
Beautifully crisp and fragrant croutons have been one of the food gods’ biggest gifts to soup and salad, but in recent years they’ve been down-scaled to overly crisp bits of stale bread or oily little blocks of French loaf – nothing we remember the true crouton to be.
I recently rediscovered them and my boyfriend Callan and I have spent quite some time perfecting them – to the point that we’re eating them like chips!
This is our recipe for classic croutons
- A good loaf or at least half a loaf of stale bread (the staler the better) – Callan prefers ciabatta because it soaks up the flavours nicely and looks great when the croutons are done too.
- Three or four sprigs of fresh rosemary or thyme – these hardy herbs are more resistant to heat and release their flavours better than the more delicate fresh herbs
- 2 T good olive oil – you want the olive oil to help crisp up your croutons until lovely and golden, not dripping with oil, so use sparingly.
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 4 or 5 cloves of garlic
Preheat the oven at 180C⁰. Cut or tear your bread into pieces, depending on what size you prefer. I like them generous and chunky. Crumble your herbs over the bread in a baking dish, add salt and pepper and olive oil and toss to ensure each crouton is infused with flavour. You can also add four or five cloves of garlic (skin on) to the baking dish for a touch of garlicky sweetness.
Bake for about 10 minutes, keeping an eye on your croutons as some types of bread bake faster than others. Turn them once or twice to ensure they brown evently.
Now, instead of serving slices of buttered toast with our soup, we have these delicious chunky croutons.
You can also add them to juicy, seared steak or mushroom salads with lots of rocket and Parmesan, or serve them alongside big bowls of piping hot pasta instead of garlic bread.
Croutons may still be a touch retro, but some things you need to celebrate. If you’re short on time, pop in at Woolies where they have a super selection of ready-prepared croutons. I love the sweet chilli croutons in butternut soup or salad. Or try their ‘Soup it up” honey and mustard dunkers and, if you want something a touch more healthy, go for their limited edition seed croutons with sunflower and pumpkin seeds.