Wednesday, February 22, 2012
Sometimes a girl just needs a few croutons in her salad
I eat a lot of salads. I love salads of just about any kind. In the winter I particularly enjoy a salad with roasted vegetables. My favorite is a grilled chicken Caesar salad and I do miss a Caesar studded with croutons. But croutons aren't just for salads. Oh no, besides eating them by the handful as is, they are a great garnish for soup! Often times I have so much going on in the kitchen that I don't take the time to make my own. Recently I discovered a new gluten-free bread product that I really like called Against the Grain. I had my first taste of this delightful bread at the Ritz in Naples, a wonderful tuna salad sandwich. I couldn't wait to get home and track down a supplier. Whole Foods carries the rolls I like and I found the traditional baguettes at Tailor Make Nutrition, an out of the way speciality store loaded with GF products in Woodbury. I stocked up. I have missed a good baguette which lends itself to any number tasty treats. I make a darn good winter bruschetta. When ripe tomatoes disappear in the late fall I turn to "Winter White Bruschetta" a savory little nugget made with truffle oil, good Parmesan cheese and slices of garlic toasted baguette. I can't wait to try that with Against The Grains baguette. But today I tackled homemade croutons because we are having soup and salad for dinner. Double the reason for having some good croutons on hand.
We are having company for dinner, someone who loves Split Pea Soup as much as I do. I know, it isn't popular and Tina will be having something else but I love Split Pea Soup. I had a few ham hocks in the freezer and homemade chicken stock that was begging to be used. I have not made this soup in over a year as we are on a soup night sabbatical. It makes a huge pot but it has potatoes in it which means it does not freeze very well so I need an audience. Hard to come by I admit.
Anyway, I made the soup yesterday, it gets better with a day of sitting and this morning I roasted my vegetables for the salad. The croutons just came out of the oven and all I can say is I hope there are some left for dinner. I should have made more but I am rationing the baguette for other purposes.
These are simple to make, so simple that I really should make them more often and I am sure they will store well in an air tight container. I simply minced some garlic and drizzled the garlic with some good olive oil. I cut the bread into one inch chunks, tossed them them with the garlic infused olive oil and then sprinkled with kosher salt and pepper. I cooked them in the oven at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes, tossing to brown evening, nibbling with every toss. Even Tashi Losar got in on the action and is stalking the croutons that are cooling on the oven. If they make it through the day they are going to be great tossed in the roasted vegetable salad and garnishing my Split Pea Soup. Now, onto a flourless chocolate something!