Monday, January 16, 2012

Garlic croutons with fig balsamic

Last week I was skyping with my good friend Liz, who also happens to be a foodie. While I was talking to her I was baking bread and was also making homemade bread crumbs with some stale bread on the bottom oven rack. We got to talking about bread crumbs and ended up having a nice discussion about why one should never buy bread crumbs and should always make them. Have you ever read the list of ingredients in store-bought bread crumbs? I don't know what half the ingredients are. I'll do a post about how to make bread crumbs next time I make them but today I'm going to talk about homemade croutons. Liz was telling me about a time when she made these and they sounded wonderful. Enjoy these on a salad, on soup or just as a snack.

I recommend baking your own bread weekly or bi-weekly as needed. If you have a few hours at home you can make your own bread. I've stocked up recently and have a few loaves in the freezer but next time I make it I'll do a blog post. I say to use your own bread because you know exactly what ingredients are in it and you also can use the odds and ends in creative ways (bread crumbs, stuffing, or croutons, for example). I made these croutons from ends of 2 stale bread loaves I had hanging around. If I'm not sure I'll use them I stick the ends in a bag in the freezer and then I can pull them out as needed. This week I had a feeling I'd be trying out this crouton recipe so I just kept them in the fridge. I used two kinds of bread because I had two kinds of stale bread on hand. Use whatever you have- it's a great way to have a homemade snack and also to clean out your fridge or freezer. If you don't make your own bread use some leftover good bakery bread or rolls- sandwich bread would even work if you have some of that to use up.


stale bread, cubed
olive oil
fig balsamic vinegar (so delicious- but you can use whatever dark vinegar you have on hand)
*roasted garlic, chopped (I used this only because I had some leftover from yesterday- you can use dried)
salt and pepper to taste
vegan parmesan (not necessary but I had about a teaspoon or so to use up so I threw it in)

plastic freezer bag
cookie sheet
aluminum foil

1. Preheat oven to 375º and line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil.

2. Cut the bread into cubes and place in the plastic freezer bag. Sprinkle in the garlic, olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper and vegan parmesan.

3. Close the bag tightly and shake gently to make sure the pieces are evenly coated.

4. Stick in the oven for about 20 minutes, gently stirring them on the sheet about halfway through. They're done when crispy and crunchy on the outside. Some ovens might take longer than others. If they're still a bit soft but are browned leave them sit on the cookie sheet for a bit and they should firm up as they cool. If they're still soft be sure you're using stale bread- if you want to make these with fresh bread just lightly toast it in slices before cubing to dry it out a bit.

5. Cool on the cookie sheet and store in an airtight container or bag once completely cooled.

*You can use whatever spices you'd like if you want to make different kinds of croutons. Feel free to experiment with different flavors!

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