Start with a wonderfully flavored bread and you’ll get wonderful croutons. Pulled Croutons are more interesting to me than the perfectly square sort. Pulling instead of cutting the strands gives the croutons a nice rustic, uneven look. Don’t save them for just salads; they’re terrific in soups and on top of pasta too.
2 baking sheets
Total Timeunder 30 minutes
Make Ahead RecipeYes
One Pot MealYes
Five Ingredients or LessYes
Taste and Texturecrisp, crunchy, herby, salty, savory
- One 2-pound boule, such as Country White, Walnut, Rosemary–Olive Oil, or Olive Bread, one to three days old
- 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon coarse salt
- ¼ teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
- Chopped fresh herbs, such as parsley, celery leaves, thyme, oregano, or basil, or chile flakes, optional
Cut the boule in half. Pull one-half-inch pieces from the inside of the bread, avoiding the crust. This size is ideal for salads. Pull smaller pieces if the croutons will be used on pasta.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. If both baking sheets won’t fit on the center oven rack, separate the racks to allow plenty of air circulation.
Toss the croutons in a bowl with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spread the croutons in a single layer on the baking sheets and bake until golden brown and crisp, about 12 to 18 minutes, depending on size. Check periodically; it may be necessary to toss the croutons several times and to rotate the baking sheets to ensure even baking.
The croutons should be lightly colored and crisp throughout. After baking, allow the croutons to cool; then they can be tossed with chopped herbs and dried chile flakes. Good croutons have no shelf life; they need to be eaten a few hours after they have been baked.
Variation: Garlic Pulled Croutons
Follow the directions for Pulled Croutons, but make a garlic-flavored oil by placing the olive oil in a small saucepan and adding 2 crushed cloves of garlic. Gently simmer for 5 minutes. Strain the oil, then toss the croutons in it, then bake.
1996 Nancy Silverton