As I have made clear, the mamas certainly left enough food at our apartment to feed a small country. And while we tried to eat/freeze everything we could, there was only so much I could do with two feet of Italian bread. Unlike Mama Ro, I’m not a huge fan of freezing bread (or pizza, or chicken wings, or pastries from 2009’s St. Joseph’s Day), so I decided to do the other Mama Ro option: make croutons.
Homemade croutons are so easy to make and taste much, much better than anything you’d find in the salad aisle of the grocery store. They can be customized to whatever flavor your stomach is growling for, depending on your spice cabinet. I chose the traditional route and hit them up with some garlic powder, oregano and parmesan cheese.
When my Ma used to make them, our dog Bailey would instantly know it was crouton time and stand right by the oven, waiting for my mom to give them a quick toss and “accidentally” drop a few on the ground. Bailey recently went to Dog Heaven, but before he did my mom made him a fresh batch of croutons that he could enjoy all by himself. Even dogs are a part of Mama Ro’s dedicated mission to stuff the faces of every thing that crosses her path.
Since we don’t have a dog, I made sure to “accidentally” drop a few on the countertop each time I took them out of the oven for a little stir. Just to be consistent with Mama Ro’s methods, of course.
(My Ma and I never measure when we make these, as it all depends on how much bread you have. You really have to eyeball the olive oil and seasonings, but honestly – you can’t mess these up!)
- stale/day old bread (I used half a loaf of Italian bread- probably about 3 cups cubed)
- 3-5 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil (just enough to lightly coat bread)
- whatever seasonings you like – I sprinkled garlic powder, basil and parmesan cheese…about 1-2 tablespoons each. (But seriously – the more parmesan, the better!)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees
1) Cut bread into 1″ cubes and spread out on baking sheet
2) Drizzle olive oil over bread, then sprinkle seasonings and cheese
3) Using your hands toss to coat every last bit of bread. If you think you need more oil/seasonings, don’t be afraid to add more! Good luck keeping your kitchen clean with olive-oil-covered hands, though. :) (I always make a mess!)
4) Place baking sheet in oven (middle rack) and toast for 10-15 minutes, taking out for a quick toss in between. The croutons are done when they are nice and golden.
And after all the little bites of crunchy bliss were out of the oven, Matt ate them just as fast as Bailey used to. As Mama Ro’s apprentice, I was pretty pleased.