These homemade croutons add a bright pop of texture and flavor to any soup or salad or are just as tasty as a nibble to serve with drinks before dinner. (Skip to recipe.)
I can't keep them around whenever I make them, as they are greedily pilfered by eager fingers from their container in the pantry. Use a rustic bread for these - like an Italian country loaf, at least a day or two old. Bigger holes in the bread mean more nooks to trap and hold the savory seedy mixture.
But, you know what? They work equally well with gluten-free bread. And if you are a user of gluten-free bread, you will know how quickly it gets dry and stale. This is a wonderful way to give new life to a tired old GF loaf.
Try serving them on a salad of spinach leaves, red onion, and hard-boiled egg slices. Divine!
Or toss a handful on top of any soup to turn it into something special.
Or set out a bowl of these crunchy croutons, along with a bowl of nuts, and maybe olives or small cheese cubes, for guests to nibble on with pre-dinner drinks. They make a wonderful appetizer, and are great to give as a hostess gift.
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Kitchen Frau Notes: If you use the lesser amount of cayenne pepper (⅛ teaspoon) in the recipe, the croutons will be savory with a tinge of warmth, and if you use the larger amount (¼ teaspoon) they will have a nice spicy zing in your mouth. It all depends on your personal taste.
Also, if you can't find black sesame seeds, substitute them with an extra tablespoon of white sesame seeds or poppy seeds.
Seedy Savoury Homemade Croutons
- 3 cups (720ml) stale bread cubes (½ to ¾ inch/1-1.5cm dice)
- 1 large egg white
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1½ teaspoons mustard seeds, yellow or brown
- 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
- 2 tablespoons hulled white sesame seeds
- 1 tablespoon black sesame seeds
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- ⅛ to ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ½ teaspoon flaked sea salt, or ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- In a large bowl, beat the egg white with a large whisk until soft peaks form (or use an electric mixer). Add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, and whisk until it is incorporated. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and whisk again until you have a soft, fluffy almost-mayonnaise-like mixture.
- Cut the bread with a serrated knife into ½ to ¾ inch cubes, and fold the cubes gently into the whipped egg and oil mixture with a rubber spatula until they are completely coated.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Coarsely grind the cumin seeds and mustard seeds in a mortar and pestle or coffee grinder. (This is where you get to bring out that seldom used mortar and pestle and look really professional.) You don't want a fine powder, just a crushed texture to release the oils and flavors.
- In a small bowl, combine the crushed seeds with the remaining seeds and seasonings.
- Sprinkle this over the coated bread cubes and toss again gently until the seed mixture has coated the bread.
- Spread the bread cubes in a single layer on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the croutons are starting to turn a toasty golden color at the edges and are crisp on the outside, though depending on how dry your bread was to start out with, some may still be a little chewy on the inside, and that is lovely, too.
- Let cool completely in the pan, then store in an airtight container at room temperature for several days, or in the freezer for several months, to bring out whenever you want a bright crunchy pop of flavor on soups or salads. Or, serve them as nibbles anytime!
Makes three cups of homemade croutons - but if you're planning on serving them as a snack (or have sneaky fingers that raid your pantry), I'd recommend doubling the recipe.
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