Ode to a Crouton
Ode to A Crouton? A crouton?! No, croutons, plural and lots of them. I love them so.
Bready, crispy, chewy in the middle. In soup or salad, they add a base note, some crunchy substance and I like to think, a bit of personality.
I love them so much that, sometimes, I get overenthusiastic and ram lots in my soup, and then the soup disappears within the croutons, so that I am left with a soggy bready mess. Self control is important.
But, it’s just a crouton? No, my friends it’s not. I have spent a while playing with my croutons, and seeing what I could do with them, and I have come up with some nice little recipes for you to try at home.
Are you still with me?
So… have you ever thought of spicing your croutons? Yes, spicing them! Well, it seems so obvious now, but the first time I thought of it, I felt like a genius. Cheese? That extra umami whack from some parmesan on your crispy crouton will work wonders for your dish. How about aromas from some herbs?
Here are some of the ways:
First step – your actual crouton. Day old good bread, diced and waiting to be dressed up for the evening out. Second step – coating in the oil if using, only use enough to dress, don’t soak them or they’ll be unpleasant. Third step – season with sea salt & bake! Spread out in an even layer on a baking sheet (no overlapping or they won’t crisp) at 150 degrees or so for 20 minutes or so until crisp.
Some heat & spice:
– chop a red chilli and fry gently in about 100 mls olive oil. Take off the heat & let cool. Add a handful of chopped coriander and blitz.
- harissa and olive oil – 2tbsp harissa to 100 mls olive oil.
Toss your croutons in your chosen oil, just enough oil to coat them, season with sea salt and bake at a low heat on a single layer – 150 degrees or so for 20 minutes until your croutons are nice and crispy. Try them with lentil and spinach soup, link from the picture at the end of the post.
– gruyere, manchego or parmesan or other hard cheeses are good. Grate finely and toss your croutons in the cheese. Add a little olive oil or bacon fat (oooo-er), just enough to lightly coat and bake, as above 150 degrees or so for 20 minutes until your croutons are nice and crispy as above. These are great with onion soup.
– make a herb oil by blitzing your herb(s) of choice in oil and as above, coatwith the oil, season and bake. Basil croutons are gorgeous with a tomato salad etc.
So, there you go. I hope that makes your Monday a little brighter.