Anyone who knows me knows that I hate waste, in particular with food, it really drives me crazy to see food thrown away. In light of this I’ll do almost anything to use a product before it goes bad. A quick side anecdote, I once pulled a turkey burger out of the trash and ate it, in my defense it was only thrown away 10 minutes earlier and it was sealed in a ziplock bag – it was delicious! I’m not saying eat bad food, or take chances, but try to schedule your left overs so you don’t throw them away, not only is it wasteful of the products it’s also very expensive.
So fast forward to now, I was at my parents house and they had some bread that was sitting on the counter waiting to be thrown out. It looked like a quality bread and they were making dinner and we were starting our meal with a salad. I instantly thought, let’s see how quick I can make croutons and use this bread. First, I closely inspected to make sure the bread wasn’t bad, after it passed that inspection I asked my mother to cut the bread, she chose to cut them in none uniform pieces, which worked remarkably well.
Meanwhile I grabbed a non-stick skillet and got it on the stove at a medium high heat. By the time the pan was hot the cut up bread was ready, I added a generous layer of olive oil (extra virgin olive oil) and started transforming the boring, stale soon to be wasted bread into a nice addition to our salad. As they were cooking I seasoned them with salt, pepper, garlic powder and a little parsley for color. I would then toss them as it seemed necessary adding additional olive oil as they looked dry. It took a few minutes but they started to lightly brown up and at that time I added fresh grated pecorino cheese (which is very similar to parmesan, but it’s made with ewe’s milk rather than cow’s milk). See the action shot below!
As you can see they are all sizes and shapes, I was initially turned off by this but it worked out really well. By having varying sizes we had various levels of crunch with the finished croutons which was very enjoyable. They ranged from very crunchy to slightly chewy still, I thought it was a very enjoyable combination.
These were incredibly simple to make and made an average salad seem like something special, the best part is they took maybe 10 minutes total to prep and cook – not a bad use of time! They were a quantum leap better than store bought croutons, these simple quick croutons were in the top 5 I’ve ever had in my life. If you’re looking to bring new life to a salad or you have some bread going bad it’s a great way to use it and enjoy it!
Below is a closeup of the croutons just before I pulled them out of the pan, just seeing this picture makes me smile, they were that yummy.
Let me know if you have any crouton ideas or recipes you think are worth trying.