I never used to make croutons at home until a year ago, but I am now a thorough convert to homemade croutons over the shop-bought any day. I started making croutons at home thanks to a beautiful soul by the name of Nasarene Dhanke. This woman is a chef, soul speaker, love giver, kindness believer, beautiful mother, faith restorer and a class apart. I had visited her at home one evening only to be welcomed by the aroma of garlic- and herb-scented croutons wafting through the air. I was immediately intrigued and asked her to sit down and give me the recipe.
She spoke in her emphatic demeanor and graphically explained how and what needs to be done as I scrambled to scribble down everything she said on a random piece of paper in my bag. I told her it was my mission to go home that night and make these croutons for the family. She laughed and told me, ‘They are just croutons, but they hold an important space in my household.’ So I left to buy some bread (the one closest to the expiry date) and fresh herbs. I arrived home with a plan of action.
My mum had her hopes up that I was making something elaborate, but when I said it was croutons, she looked at me like I was crazy. Forty-five minutes later, the most aromatic scent wafted through my house. One year later, I am making a batch of these croutons every 10 days. I have also made them as gifts for my friends and family. You can have these with soup, as a snack or even as a side to your meal for some added crunch.
There are so many flavours that I have tried, from a variety of herbs, to grated Parmesan cheese, to sea salt flakes, to chopped walnuts and raisins. The list is endless, but once the basic recipe is mastered, you can add or subtract flavours as you choose.
- 1 large baguette (not freshly baked; day old is fine)
- 1 tbsp dried oregano
- 1 tbsp dried thyme
- salt (to taste)
- ½ tsp cracked black pepper
- 5 tbsp olive oil
- Preheat oven to 170°C. Cut the baguette into bite-sized cubes. Place on a flat baking tray.
- Add the herbs, salt, pepper and olive oil to the pan and, using your hands, toss with the bread cubes.
- Bake for 25–30 minutes, stirring with a spatula every 10 minutes. Cook until golden brown. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for 1 hour at room temperature.
- Once cooled, transfer to an airtight glass jar and store at room temperature for up to 1 month (if they last that long!).