The Perfect Crouton

At some point during my last year of college, I became completely obsessed with the caesar salad.  I would go weeks eating caesar salad for lunch without ever getting sick of it.  I guess you could say it was a college student’s dream, delicious, of course, but also cheap.  I mean it’s just romaine lettuce, stale bread, a little salad dressing, which can totally be made at home, and parmesan, which I will admit is not super cheap, but a block will last you all semester, all swirled together beautifully to create something that is so much more than its parts.  

So anyways, I loved this salad.  I had perfected my quick homemade caesar dressing, and knew I hated store-bought croutons, so I wanted to figure out how to make croutons at home.  I searched, scoured, and patched together various recipes to create the below.  The result was something magical: a perfect crouton, which would hold up, never betray me by getting soggy, and perfectly hold and just slightly absorb salad dressing.

This crouton is perfect for caesar salad, but will work on any salad.  I really like using ciabatta bread on this, but you could use another bread as well, but just be sure to check the croutons more often since cooking times vary with different kinds of bread. So go ahead, get your homemade crouton on!  I promise, it’s easy.

The Perfect Crouton

Notes: This produces a crouton that is not rock hard and is perfect for soaking up dressing.  When I made these, I used smaller rosemary-olive sandwich ciabattas, so you can see that this recipe is pretty versatile.

Ingredients:

  • 1 loaf of ciabatta bread
  • 1/2 cup of olive oil (or other oil of your choice)
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of pepperIMG_0226[1]

Implements:

  • serrated knife
  • measuring cup
  • sheet pan for baking
  • spatula

Steps:

  1. Preheat your oven to 400° F.
  2. Cut your loaf of bread in 1 inch cubes with the serrated knife and put them all in an even layer on the sheet pan.IMG_0228[1]
  3. Pour the oil over the breadcrumbs, then sprinkle the salt, garlic powder, and pepper over the bread pieces.
  4. Stir the mixture with the spatula until each piece of bread has a bit of oil on it and the spices are evenly distributed and that the bread cubes are in one even layer on the sheet pan.
  5. Put the sheet pan into the pre-heated oven and bake the croutons for about 10 minutes, until you can see that they are beginning to crisp.IMG_0241[1]
  6. Take the croutons out of the oven and stir them around.  Make sure they are back in an even layer on the pan and place them back in the oven for another 8-10 minutes, until crisp and golden brown.
  7. Top on you favorite salad and enjoy!IMG_0242[1]

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