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Slow and steady wins the race, especially when it comes to these delicious homemade croutons from bestselling cookbook author Samin Nosrat, who is also the host and executive producer of the Netflix show based on and named after her cookbook Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat.
Says Samin, “Store-bought croutons simply can’t compete with homemade ones. To begin with, your raw ingredients are almost certainly of a higher quality, and hence more delicious, than the stuff anyone else will use. What’s more, the rustic, uneven shape of torn croutons lends a variety of textures to your salads. Dressing clings to them better, and they’re also just more lovely to look at. That, and they are less likely to scratch the roof of your mouth. If these reasons don’t convince you, come over to my house for some Caesar salad. I’ll get you that way.”
Adapted from Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat by Samin Nosrat. Copyright © 2017 by Samin Nosrat. Used with permission by Simon & Schuster. All rights reserved.
Preheat the oven to 400˚F. For more tooth-friendly croutons, remove the crusts from the bread, then cut the loaf into inch-thick slices. Cut each slice into inch-wide strips. Working over a large bowl, tear each strip into inch-size pieces. Alternatively, you can just tear croutons directly off the loaf, as long as you get somewhat evenly-sized pieces. (I find that pre-slicing speeds up the whole process and yields even, yet rustic-looking croutons, so it’s my preferred method.)
Toss croutons with olive oil to coat evenly, then spread in a single layer on a baking sheet. Use a second sheet as needed to prevent crowding, which will entrap steam and keep croutons from browning.
Toast croutons for 18 to 22 minutes, checking after 8 minutes. Rotate pans, switching their oven positions, and use a metal spatula to turn and rotate croutons so they brown evenly. Once they begin to brown, check every few minutes, continuing to turn and rotate. Some croutons might be done when others still need a few more minutes of baking, so remove them from the tray and let the rest finish cooking. Bake until croutons are golden brown and crunchy on the outside, with just a tiny bit of chew on the inside.
Taste a crouton and adjust the seasoning with a light sprinkling of salt if needed.
When done, let the croutons cool in a single layer on the baking sheet. Use immediately or keep in an airtight container for up to 2 days. To refresh stale croutons, bake for 3 to 4 minutes at 400˚F.