Monica's favorite gear for
making Croutons
Recommended by Cook's Illustrated as a Best Buy, this easily cuts bread at a fraction of the cost of expensive knife brands.
This 13 by 18 inch pan is called a "half sheet". It's a versatile pan for all kinds of baking and roasting (like these croutons), and the lid is great for convenient storage.

Whole Grain Croutons | Garlic Parmesan, Fiesta, and Pesto

3 easy, crunchy flavors the healthier way


Whole Grain Croutons | 3 varieties

By Monica              72 croutons; 8 servi
These easy, healthier croutons use whole grain bread and replace butter with olive oil. 3 delicious flavors: Garlic Parmesan, Fiesta, and Pesto. TheYummyLife.com

These easy, healthier croutons use whole grain bread and replace butter with olive oil. 3 delicious flavors: Garlic Parmesan, Fiesta, and Pesto.

Ingredients
  • FOR ALL 3 CROUTON VARIETIES:
  • 1-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • half of a 1-lb loaf whole grain bread, cut in 1" cubes; may also use stale, leftover bread (approx. 5 cups of bread cubes total)
  • 1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • FOR GARLIC PARMESAN CROUTONS
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped, fresh Italian parsley (or 1 teaspoon dried)
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
  • FOR FIESTA CROUTONS:
  • 2 tablespoons dry taco seasoning, store-bought or homemade (recipe at www.theyummylife.com/recipes/76)
  • FOR PESTO CROUTONS:
  • 1/3 cup basil pesto, store-bought or homemade (recipe at www.theyummylife.com/recipes/25)

Directions
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

FOR GARLIC PARMESAN CROUTONS:
To large bowl, add 3 tablespoons olive oil, garlic, parsley, and black pepper; stir to combine. Microwave at full power for 20 seconds. Add bread cubes and toss until evenly coated with seasoned oil. Add cheese and toss again.

FOR FIESTA CROUTONS:
To large bowl, add 3 tablespoons olive oil and taco seasoning; stir to combine. Microwave at full power for 20 seconds. Add bread cubes and toss until evenly coated with seasoned oil. Add cheese and toss again.

FOR PESTO CROUTONS:
To large bowl, add 1 tablespoon olive oil and pesto; stir to combine. Microwave at full power for 20 seconds. Add bread cubes and toss until evenly coated with seasoned oil. Add cheese and toss again.

TO BAKE CROUTONS (All 3 varieties):
Pour seasoned bread cubes onto large baking sheet and spread in single layer. Bake for 20-30 minutes, until toasted and golden; stir half way through; will get crispier as they cool.

TO SERVE, STORE, and RESTORE TEXTURE:
Serve over salad or soup. Store in airtight container for 1-2 days. Freeze after that.
If croutons lose crispness after storing or freezing, return to 325 degree oven for 10 minutes to restore crunchy texture.

NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION for 1 serving Croutons (approx. nine 1-inch croutons): calories 99; fat 2.4g; carbs 16.5g; fiber 2g; protein 4g; Weight Watchers SmartPoints = 3 points


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These easy croutons use whole grain bread and replace butter with olive oil, for a much healthier recipe than traditional croutons. Buy a loaf of bread for making these or use up leftover stale bread. These croutons add delicious crunch to soups and salads. Choose from 3 flavors: Garlic Parmesan, Fiesta, and Pesto. Or, don't choose--try them all!

To skip the step-by-step photo tutorial and jump straight to the recipe, click below:

I keep a bag in my freezer where I throw leftover or stale cubed bread until I've accumulated enough to make croutons. It's economical, since I'd otherwise most likely be throwing the stale bread away. That makes the croutons almost free.

IMG_1174.jpg

If my freezer bread bag is empty, I buy a loaf of bread specifically for making croutons. My homemade croutons are super easy to make, and they are WAY tastier and healthier than the ready-made version you can buy at the grocery store. Tasty, crunchy homemade croutons take any soup or salad to the next level. 

3 flavors. I 'm sharing three easy, distinct flavors:

  • Garlic Parmesan
  • Fiesta (using taco seasoning)
  • Pesto (using, uh, pesto). 

The easy method is the same for all three flavors. 

"Healthified" -- here's how I made my croutons healthier than traditional crouton recipes:

  • replaced 1/2 cup butter with 3 tablespoons of olive oil--a healthier fat and much less of it; along with the flavor punch of the seasonings, I don't miss the butter at all
  • used whole grain bread--high in fiber and healthier than white bread; and to my taste buds, yummier, too; the whole grain croutons have a hearty, nutty crunch--delish on salads and soups

Nutritional Info. for 1 serving Garlic Parmesan Croutons (approx. nine 1-inch croutons):

  • calories 99; fat 2.4g; carbs 16.5g; fiber 2g; protein 4g
  • Weight Watchers SmartPoints = 3 points

 

Step-by-step photos for making
Whole Grain Croutons -- 3 Varieties
(the procedure is the same for all 3 kinds)

Flavor #1: Garlic Parmesan Croutons

Step 1. You need 4-5 cups of bread cubes. These can be an assortment of leftover bread that you cut into cubes (like my bag of bread cubes above). Stale bread works great, so this is a good way to use up leftover bread that might otherwise be thrown away. Or, you can purchase a loaf of bread specifically for making croutons.  Either way, cut your bread into cubes. Mine are 1" cubes, but you can cut them any size you prefer. I used a multi-grain bakery loaf here. Half of a 1 pound loaf makes enough bread cubes for a full recipe of croutons. 

(click here to view my favorite budget-friendly bread knife on Amazon)

Croutons2.jpg

Step 2. Assemble these ingredients: olive oil, garlic, grated Parmesan cheese, fresh Italian parsley, freshly group black pepper, bread cubes

Step 3. Add the olive oil, minced garlic, chopped parsley, and ground pepper to a bowl, and give it a stir.

Step 4. Put the bowl in the microwave and heat at full power for 20 seconds. This helps the oil absorb the seasonings.

Step 5. Add the bread cubes to the seasoned oil and toss, and toss, and toss--until the bread cubes are evenly coated.

Step 6. Add the parmesan cheese and toss again. The cheese distributes and sticks better if it's added after the bread is coated with oil.

Step 7. Spread the bread cubes out on a baking sheet; bake for 20-30 minutes at 325 degrees until toasted and crunchy. (click here to view my 13x18" inch baking sheet on Amazon)

parm_collage.jpg

Done! So easy and amazingly delicious. These are great on any salad or soup. Very versatile. We especially enjoy them on our garden-grown greens tossed with my Everyday Vinaigrette.

parmIMG_1169.jpg

Flavor #2: Fiesta Croutons

Exact same procedure, except you add taco seasoning to the olive oil, microwave, toss with bread cubes, toss with Parmesan cheese, and bake. The spice of the taco seasoning adds some great flavor. You can use store-bought taco seasoning or make your own. Here's my recipe: Fiesta Taco Seasoning recipe

fiesta_collage.jpg

These are delicious on any salad. Especially good as a substitute for tortilla chips in a taco salad. Try them sprinkled on corn chowder, bean soups, and chili. I added Fiesta Croutons to salad greens with corn, tomatoes, red onion, and black beans, tossed with my Honey Lime Vinaigrette. Yum! (These croutons are my personal favorite of the 3.)

fiestaIMG_1162.jpg

Flavor #3: Pesto Croutons

Exact same procedure again, except you add pesto to the olive oil (a little less olive oil than the other crouton recipes, because pesto already has some olive oil in it), microwave, toss with bread cubes, toss with Parmesan cheese, bake. The pesto has lots of flavor and seasonings, so it's an easy way to flavor croutons. You can use store-bought pesto, or make your own. Here's my recipe:  Classic Basil Pesto

pesto_collage.jpg

These croutons will complement lots of soups and salads. They're particularly good on my Everyday Italian Salad.

pestoIMG_1160.jpg

Store or freeze. Store the croutons in an airtight container. If they lose their crunch after a day or two, return them to the oven for 10 minutes to crisp them up again (they'll get crunchier as they cool). You can also freeze them and reheat them the same way.

These are all crunchy and tasty. My challenge was saving them for our salads. They're good to snack on all by themselves. Tempting. Very tempting.

Croutons6.jpg

If you can't choose one flavor to make, try all 3! It's fun to serve a selection on a soup or salad bar. 

squareIMG_1132.jpg

Make it a Yummy day!
Monica

Link directly to this recipe Print this recipe
Whole Grain Croutons | 3 varieties
By Monica              Servings: 72 croutons; 8 servi
Ingredients
  • FOR ALL 3 CROUTON VARIETIES:
  • 1-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • half of a 1-lb loaf whole grain bread, cut in 1" cubes; may also use stale, leftover bread (approx. 5 cups of bread cubes total)
  • 1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • FOR GARLIC PARMESAN CROUTONS
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped, fresh Italian parsley (or 1 teaspoon dried)
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
  • FOR FIESTA CROUTONS:
  • 2 tablespoons dry taco seasoning, store-bought or homemade (recipe at www.theyummylife.com/recipes/76)
  • FOR PESTO CROUTONS:
  • 1/3 cup basil pesto, store-bought or homemade (recipe at www.theyummylife.com/recipes/25)
Directions
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

FOR GARLIC PARMESAN CROUTONS:
To large bowl, add 3 tablespoons olive oil, garlic, parsley, and black pepper; stir to combine. Microwave at full power for 20 seconds. Add bread cubes and toss until evenly coated with seasoned oil. Add cheese and toss again.

FOR FIESTA CROUTONS:
To large bowl, add 3 tablespoons olive oil and taco seasoning; stir to combine. Microwave at full power for 20 seconds. Add bread cubes and toss until evenly coated with seasoned oil. Add cheese and toss again.

FOR PESTO CROUTONS:
To large bowl, add 1 tablespoon olive oil and pesto; stir to combine. Microwave at full power for 20 seconds. Add bread cubes and toss until evenly coated with seasoned oil. Add cheese and toss again.

TO BAKE CROUTONS (All 3 varieties):
Pour seasoned bread cubes onto large baking sheet and spread in single layer. Bake for 20-30 minutes, until toasted and golden; stir half way through; will get crispier as they cool.

TO SERVE, STORE, and RESTORE TEXTURE:
Serve over salad or soup. Store in airtight container for 1-2 days. Freeze after that.
If croutons lose crispness after storing or freezing, return to 325 degree oven for 10 minutes to restore crunchy texture.

NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION for 1 serving Croutons (approx. nine 1-inch croutons): calories 99; fat 2.4g; carbs 16.5g; fiber 2g; protein 4g; Weight Watchers SmartPoints = 3 points
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This is an update of a post originally published in May 2012.



Posted on Monday, January 11th, 2016








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