Some little things make a big difference. Like homemade croutons for example. When I’m at a salad bar, I always pass up those hard-as-a-rock mass-produced chunks of a substance that may once have been bread, but I’m dubious (of its origins.) On the other hand, I adore homemade croutons. On a hot day, there is nothing better than cold soup or salad with a few scrumptious croutons floating on top. They take any food they’re in up a notch and often just plain steal the show.
If you want to get fancy, you can add garlic, herbs (dried or fresh), or even spice them up with a dash of hot sauce. But they taste just fine with just butter and/or oil, salt and pepper. This recipe mixes butter and olive oil, balancing the nutritional benefits of olive oil with the unique taste benefits of butter. If you don’t notice or prefer the taste of the butter, you can certainly go with all olive oil.
Croutons – 2 slices of bread (approx. 2 cups of croutons) Total cost – Less than $1
- 2 slices of bread
- ¾ tablespoon unsalted (sweet cream) butter
- 2 teaspoons olive oil, preferably extra virgin
- salt & pepper to taste
- Cutting board
- Knife (serrated for cutting bread)
- Measuring spoons
- Toaster oven tray
- Optional - Garlic press (if adding garlic) & straight edge knife (if using fresh herbs)
- Preheat the toaster oven to 400 degrees.
- Cut the bread slices into strips vertically, then cut the strips horizontally (in the other direction) so the bread is now in cubes. The size of the cubes is up to you, but most bread works well cut into quarters both ways. If you cut the slices in half first, then cut each half again in half, you’ll make the cubes more even. But don’t obsess about the exactness of your cutting. Part of the beauty of homemade croutons is their irregularity.
- Put them in the bowl.
- Melt the butter. (I microwaved the butter for 1 minute at 50% power. Be careful not to use too high a power setting or even this small amount of butter will splatter.)
- Mix the butter and oil. If you want to use garlic, press it and add to the butter and oil mixture. If you are adding fresh herbs, cut them into the smallest possible pieces and add to the butter/oil mixture. For dried herbs, use less than a half teaspoon, crushed to almost a powder.
- Pour the butter/oil mixture (with garlic and/or herbs) over the bread cubes. Toss them and add a sprinkling of salt and pepper.
- Put the bread cubes on the tray and bake for 6-8 minutes, turning them over halfway through.
All done and ready to eat!
|2 slices of bread||$0.25||Local grocery - $2.99 per loaf|
|¾ tablespoon butter||$0.10||$3.49 per pound/$.11 tablespoon - Giant|
|2 teaspoons olive oil||$0.20||$6.99 for 16 oz/$.44 oz - Giant|
|salt & pepper||$0.00||pantry|