We eat a lot of Caesar salad in my house.
Sometimes it has Cajun chicken on it, or rotisserie chicken, or leftover salmon. Sometimes it has no meat on it – just a big bowl of romaine, dressing, Parmesan and croutons. I have yet to post a Caesar salad dressing, because I have not found one that I love – I’m still searching. Okay, it’s more like, I can’t find one that Hubby and I agree on. We see eye to eye on most things, but we have a difference of opinion on what makes a good Caesar salad dressing.
Many Caesar salad dressings have mustard in them, which I like. He does not. Sometimes I try to sneak it in, but he always knows, even if it’s the tiniest amount. So I will keep trying different dressing recipes until I find one I’m happy with. Any recommendations?
One thing we can both agree on is that Caesar salad is always better with croutons, and croutons are always better when they’re homemade. Croutons are one of those things that are definitely ridiculously marked up when they’re store bought. Think about it: all they are are some stale bread, with some type of fat, seasonings and maybe a little cheese. When you make them yourself, you know you’re getting quality ingredients, and you can control how they taste at a fraction of the cost.
The hardest part about making croutons is cutting up the bread. It helps to have a good bread knife, especially if your bread is crusty. I like to cut up the ends of my bread when they’re getting a little on the stale side, and store them as cubes in a Ziploc in the freezer. That way, I’m ready to go if I need to make more croutons, or if I feel the need to make stuffing. Once your bread is cubed, all you have to do is toss it with a little oil, garlic, Parmesan, salt and pepper. Just stick them in the oven and they’re all ready for you to toss into your salads or soups.
- 4 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium clove garlic, minced or pressed
- 4 cups cubed high quality, stale bread (about 10 ounces)
- 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Heat oven to 400°F and move oven rack to the upper middle position. Mix olive oil and garlic together in a small bowl. Let sit for about 5 minutes.
Place cubed bread into a large bowl. Toss with olive oil/garlic mixture, Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. Spread in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until golden brown, stirring every 3-4 minutes. Cool on baking sheet. Store in and airtight container at room temperature for up to a week. Use in salads or soups.
For crunchy croutons, use crusty artisan bread. For croutons that are a little softer, use sandwich bread.
Homemade Garlic Parmesan Croutons Nutrition Notes:
These croutons can be made with a whole grain bread to increase fiber content. You can also reduce the salt by half to reduce the amount of sodium in the croutons.