Croutons are our salad kryptonite. We find that we look forward to even the most lackluster salad if we know croutons are involved. Happily for us, making a quick single-serving batch of crunchy, garlicky croutons requires only a toaster and three minutes of our time.I used to make a big batch of croutons to last us all week by toasting torn-up pieces of leftover bread in the oven and storing them in an airtight container. This still works fine, of course, but I find that I like the convenience and guaranteed-freshness of making them in the toaster. No baking sheets! No fuss!
I also like that I can control the level of crunchiness when I make croutons in the toaster. I often toast the bread more lightly so that it remains chewy in the middle and then I tear (rather than slice) it into chunks for my salad. It's this little bit of variety that keeps me interested in my daily salad!
Garlicky Toaster Croutons
1 piece of thick-sliced bread per salad
1 garlic clove
Turn your toaster to the lowest setting. Toast the bread several times until the slices are dry, crisp, and golden. Since all toasters are not created equal, flip and rotate the bread in between toastings so that the slices toast evenly.
While the toast is still warm, rub it all over and on both sides with the clove of garlic. The garlic will be absorbed into the warm bread. Rub once for light garlic flavor or multiple times for deep garlicky goodness ( usually use about 1/3 - 1/2 clove of garlic per piece of toast). Use a serrated knife to cut the toast into bite-sized croutons and toss them into your salad.
If you'd like herbed croutons, brush the warm toast with a little olive oil and sprinkle both sides with herbes de provence after rubbing with the garlic (or instead of the garlic).
Do you ever make croutons this way? What's your favorite method?
(Images: Emma Christensen)