Makes 3 cups
3 cups bread (pretty much any kind will work), cut into cubes
Salt, to taste
Place the bread cubes in a single layer in a large skillet over medium high heat. Toast, stirring regularly, until they begin to crisp up and brown lightly.
Begin adding olive oil a tablespoon or two at a time, stirring well to coat and allowing it to absorb into the bread. They are done when they are evenly crisp and brown and lightly shiny (you'll probably want to taste a few to check as you cook).
Remove the croutons from the heat and stir in your favorite spice while they are still hot. I used Riviera Herbs (about 1 1/2 teaspoons) in this preparation. Or try Vadouvan N28, Amber N2, Noga N17, or D'Vora for starters, but the sky really is the limit. Use the blend or single spice that's been sitting in your cabinet and give it a new crispy life!
Taste for salt and add if you want to. Allow the croutons to cool uncovered to release any residual moisture, then store in an air-tight container for up to two weeks (if you can keep yourself from eating them all by then).
Variations & Ideas:
Salad is a natural pair, but there are many other great uses:
Try tossing croutons in with your favorite pasta dish. They add a great crunch and retain their structure better than plain bread as they soak up the sauce.Pretty much any soup is enlivened by croutons.They make a fantastic snack for young kids (my son Max is currently 3), packed with healthy olive oil, fun to eat, and easy to carry around.They are great for breading meats and cheeses for baking, just crush them. Since they contain oil already you don't have to add any.
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