I haven’t bought a box of croutons from the store in….probably 20 years. I’m not kidding. Mostly because when I realized how easy and cheap it was to make my own, and how much better they were? Oh my gosh…
Here we have (front left going clockwise) 1) Jack Miller Croutons 2) Garlic & Parmesan Cheese Croutons 3) Pizza Style Croutons with Red Pepper and Oregano 4) Roasted Sesame Seeds Croutons
A home-made crouton and one one out of the box shouldn’t even share the same name, because they are a galaxy apart in every way. And for me, they’re practically free. Why pay for something when it’s nearly free made at home?
I don’t throw away food – unless it’s spoiled or moldy, or truly can’t be re-purposed, then I do. But I save all sorts of ends, bits, slices, wedges, cups of this and that. I wrap whatever it is and pop it into the freezer. You should see my freezer, I can barely open it – that’s the problem with saving food. BUT…I use it up – I really do in every day cooking and also with cooking projects – you would be amazed at what I can pull out of a freezer.
And with bread – especially bread – I cut up left over bread into little cubes and pop them into a freezer bag, then down the road I use it for bread crumbs or croutons. That’s another thing I haven’t bought in decades, bread crumbs. I even take home dinner rolls from restaurants if no one else wants them…this is especially true with Olive Garden. Those bread sticks make awesome croutons.
When I decided to do a crouton post to publish with the Fresh Tomato Soup – I looked in my freezer to see what I had on-hand…and look what I found! And these were just near the top…(Lordy knows what’s buried underneath and I’m afraid to look.) This basket is big, it’s hard to tell with the photo but it’s about 10″ by 16″ basket and that’s a lot of bread cubes…which turned into incredible croutons.
Simply mix your bread cubes with either olive oil or melted butter and season with whatever strikes your fancy -then bake.
I melt the butter in the microwave (I use about 1/4 stick for a large bag of bread cubes), then I season the butter itself, then pour the butter into the zip lock bag and shake it up. Bake at 375F on a foil lined baking sheet, making sure they’re all spread out. I bake them 10 minutes, check on them, turn them over and bake an additional 10 minutes…maybe more depending on the moisture in the bread and size of the cube.
Be prepared though – many of your croutons will get eaten up before you have a chance to top them in the salad, on your casserole, in your soup or stew. It’s a fact…so you may want to make a few extra.
I even place these out to snack on with a cold beer or glass of wine. It’s really a perfect nibble.
Please try these at home! You will never buy a store bought crouton again.