The problem with baguettes is that they go stale much too quickly. I used find myself throwing a hard, seemingly useless piece away only a day after enjoying the other half. It was sad, really, and so wasteful. But, happily, that madness is over for me because I’ve learned a crucial lesson: when life gives you old bread, you might as well make croutons.
Seriously, it’s so easy, you’ll freak. Then you’ll double freak when you realize how intensely homemade croutons can perk up your salad or soup.
To facilitate this revelation, all you really need is a little olive oil, your favorite savory seasonings and, of course, bread (see my recipe at the end of this post). First, preheat your oven to 375, then cut your baguette into 1/2 inch slices.
Next, cube your slices.You’ll also want these pieces to be reasonably uniform in size, so that they’ll bake evenly. Just make them as big or small as you like your croutons.
Pick your seasonings. I happened to have a bunch of thyme sitting on my window ledge, so of course I used that, but dried oregano or basil would be good, too. I also opted to use parmesan cheese. I chopped the herbs and grated the cheese.
The fun part is mixing all the components. Use your hands and a big bowl to make sure that all the cubes get some love.
Place your cubes on a cookie sheet with some space in between each piece. If you have any left over goodness in the mixing bowl, sprinkle it on top. Now slide them in the oven and keep vigil because they can go from crisp to burned-to-a-crisp in seconds. Once they reach a golden brown color, turn them over with a spatula. Mine took about 15 minutes for each side, but it will depend on your oven.
One taste, and you’ll never look at stale old bread the same again. Your days of buying croutons are probably behind you, too.
Here’s my recipe:
1/2 a day (or two day) old baguette
1/4 cup of olive oil
1/4 cup of grated parmesan cheese
2 tbl spoons of coarsely chopped thyme
sprinkle of kosher salt
sprinkle of pepper