California Central Coast Recipes
Garlicky Croutons are a must for a traditional Caesar Salad
. But don't just use them for salads! Garlicky Croutons are equally good on top of hearty soups like Split Pea Soup with Smoked Ham Hocks
and stews and chili recipes like Chili - Sue's Own Hardy Mediterranean Style
. These are so good. When I first wrote this recipe, I unconsciously set the serving number to 2 instead of 8 because you could practically munch them all yourself!
To make good croutons you need to start with a good French or Italian style bread. The bread needs to be just coarse enough when toasted to create a really nice crunch and not become soggy when tossed in a salad, but not so coarse that they feel like a jaw breaker. In this recipe we cut the bread into 1/2 inch dice, but you can increase or decrease the size to taste and recipe.
It also to helps to use bread that is a couple of days old. We like to buy the bread a few days in advance and keep it in the refrigerator. This stiffens the bread up nicely to cut and dice easily.
Preparation time: 5 minutesCooking time: 20 minutes
4 c French Bread cut into 1/2 inch dice
4 large cloves Fresh Garlic minced
4 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 Preheat the oven to 375F
2 Dice a loaf of day old French bread into 1/2' cubes. Spread out 4 cups of the diced bread on a larger baking sheet, one bread layer thick. Place the baking sheet into the oven and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, turning them over a couple times, until the cubes are crispy and slightly browned on the edges. Be careful not to burn the cubes.
3 Heat the olive oil in a frying over medium heat to hot but not smoking. Add the minced garlic to the hot oil and cook just until fragrant. Turn off the heat and add the browned bread cubes. Toss until all the bread cubes are coated with the olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste.
4 Use immediately, or place in a covered storage container and refrigerate. The croutons will keep for a couple of days in your refrigerator.
We love these croutons in a Caesar Salad, or on top of a hearty soup like a homemade pea soup.