Recipe: Croutons (+bonus!)

I never use up a whole loaf of bread without getting creative. So, usually, I just don’t buy it. But, every now and then, I can’t help it.

What to do when scraps start accumulating? Croutons! SO easy, SO good.

Grab a loaf of bread. Go nuts with the knife. Throw it in the oven at 250 until it is hard, no moisture left (usually about an hour, depending on the bread). Voila. Ten times better than store-bought. (If you want to season them, spray the fresh bread lightly with cooking or olive oil spray, and then season.

Last year, I made butternut squash and sage soup and topped it with feta cheese, walnuts and pumpernickel croutons. I made asiago and walnut quick-bread into biscotti for Christmas gifts, to go with homemade roasted red pepper soup.

They also make good snacks, either on their own, or with some dressing.

Today’s versions:

Pumpernickel with chili and cumin and pepper blend
Multi-grain sourdough with smoked paprika and coriander
Multi-grain sourdough with oregano, thyme and onion
Kalamata olive bread with some homemade spice blend

Bonus recipe from last night’s dinner:

1 cubed butternut squash
6 fresh sage leaves, chopped
3 chunks of candied ginger
Glaze of 2 parts extra-virgin olive oil, 2 parts honey and 1 part balsamic vinegar, chili and salt to taste
Toss ingredients in a roasting pan, stick in the oven at 350 for about 30 minutes, or until the squash is tender, stirring occasionally.

Serve over:

Cheater’s Black Risotto

(No measurements here, sorry!)

Black or wild rice (yes, you can use any rice. Black is lovely though.)
Amaranth or Quinoa (extra protein for us vegetarians)
Salt and pepper.

Cook rice according to directions. Add amaranth or quinoa about halfway through cooking time. When just a bit of liquid remains, add a bit of butter and a handful of cheese (I used an Italian blend) and stir until cheese is melted and rice is creamy.

Dish onto plate, add squash, and top with slivered almonds and cacao nibs.

Perfect autumn or holiday dish, but is equally delicious in summer.

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