27 April 2010

baked garlic croutons

Remember how I said I'd post all my Easter recipes, and how I was working backwards, and yet somehow I stopped with the main course? I didn't forget the rest of my meal! Our salad course was a caesar topped with these big, crunchy, garlicy croutons. They are so good I'm featuring them by themselves.

Croutons are my favorite part of any salad, and I can happily eat a salad sans dresssing as long as there are good croutons involved. Snacks(salty+crunchy)=happy Caroline. (This is also why I love popcorn, potato chips, shoestring fries, pretzel crisps, etc.) I can eat croutons by themselves, which is exactly why I made an entire loaf's worth instead of enough for one meal. Good thing is that they keep well in a zip top bag for many days of future munching.

Garlic Croutons

1 loaf day old italian bread, cubed into big 1+" chunks (the loaf I got was so big, it made almost 100 huge cubes , thus the amount of oil listed next)
1/4 cup olive oil
4 cloves garlic
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 375.

Heat the olive oil in a pan over medium-low to low heat. Smash the garlic cloves with your knife and discard the skin. Put the cloves into the oil and heat until the oil is infused with the garlicy goodness -- I let it simmer while I cut the bread - took about 10 minutes. Don't let the garlic brown.

Dump the bread cubes into a really big bowl. Drizzle the garlic infused oil over the bread, tossing regularly to ensure even coating. Season with salt, garlic powder, and a few grinds of pepper. Taste one and adjust seasoning to your liking. Spread out evenly in a single on a sheet pan. Bake for 10 minutes. Toss the croutons. Bake for 8 more minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool.

You an also season it however you like, too - get crazy with herbs, cheeses, ranch powder, etc. Eat with your favorite salad, or on soup, or as a snack :)

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