Homemade croutons are the best.
I love them so much that I composed little diddies in my head about them as I made a batch to accompany a salad.
Our pastor invited us over for dinner and I had to laugh with surprise when I found out he was preparing Mason City blogger Debbie of Debbie’s Midwestern Kitchen’s copycat recipe for Northwestern Steakhouse’s famous steaks that went viral last week. We’ve lived in Mason City for half a year and still haven’t made it there. They operate similarly to Broders’ Pasta Bar in Minneapolis because they don’t accept reservations as we formally know them, but have a day-of call-in system and there’s typically a line. One of these days. . .
This particular batch of croutons is extra-special because I made them from bread I baked earlier using Liz’s recipe from Carpe Season. Her recipe makes two huge, fluffy loaves so you can freeze the second for later.
I first learned how to make homemade croutons when I volunteered in the kitchen at Spoonriver in Minneapolis, MN many summers ago. Growing up, my family had always bought them by the bags and box and they were always caked in seasoning powders and hydrogenated oils.
Now that I know how simple they are to prepare, I haven’t purchased them since. If you prepare a lot of salads and soups at home, you’ll appreciate having these on hand.
Here’s how I make my croutons:
Grab whatever bread you have lying around your house. Gluten-free bread would work well. If it’s not moldy, it’s fair game.
Cut the bread into cubes, drizzle them generously with olive oil, and season however you’d you like.
Salt and pepper only will suffice, or go nuts. In culinary school, we tossed them with Italian seasonings and parmesan cheese when we prepared lunch for the students. For this batch, I used salt, white pepper, smoked paprika and garlic powder.
Don’t be afraid to taste a raw crouton to check for seasoning.
Spread them all into a single layer on a baking sheet and bake at 350℉ until crispy, tossing a couple of times. Store in an airtight container and try not to eat them by the handful. Or do.
Besides flavor, my other favorite thing about homemade croutons is their texture. Store-bought croutons are 100% crunchy with no give. Homemade croutons are crispy on the outside but have the slightest give on the inside if you let them. This is what makes them so delightful.
I hope that if you try making them, you like them and that they also make you want to sing songs, too.