Let's Dish With Linda Lou

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Homemade Ciabatta Croutons

Tuscan Sausage, Kale And Potato Soup

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There is nothing better than Homemade Ciabatta Croutons. Whenever I make croutons, they’re usually made from cutting up a special Artisan bread bought from my local bakery. Ciabatta bread is my favorite. Specifically the Tuscan garlic loaf. Whole roasted garlic cloves are baked right into the bread.

Let me say this if you love good bread, and you’ve made homemade croutons then you know what I’m talking about.

These are a few of my recipes where I’ve added Homemade Ciabatta Croutons.

My Tuscan Soup, Rotisserie Chicken Soup, French Onion Soup, Stuffed Acorn Squash, Panzanella Salad With A Twist, and finally, my Sweet Italian Sausage, Mushroom, And Asparagus Strata.

I think in the future I’ll be making a sweet bread pudding using another variety of  Ciabatta bread. They are just so many recipes that start out with great Homemade Ciabatta Croutons.

Let me show you two techniques I use when making croutons. One is the stovetop method, the other is the oven-bake method.

Rotisserie-Chicken-Salad

Stuffed-Acon-Squash

French-Onion-Soup

Panzanella Salad (2)

Sweet Italian Sausage, Mushroom, And Asparagus Strata

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Flat Leaf Italian Parsley

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Parsley And Parmesan Croutons

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Prep Time: 5 to 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 15 minute
Total Time: 25 minutes
Yields: 4 to 6 cups of croutons

Ingredients For Stove Top Method:
4 to 6 cups of bread cubes, 1 1/2-inch size cubes (1 loaf of Tuscan Ciabatta garlic loaf, or plain Ciabatta)
2 tablespoons of butter, unsalted
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 teaspoon of Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons of Italian flat-leaf parsley, optional
Parmesan cheese, freshly grated, optional

Ingredients For Oven Bake Method:
4 to 6 cups of bread cubes, 1 1/2-inch size cubes (1 loaf of Tuscan Ciabatta garlic loaf, or plain Ciabatta)
1/4 cup of olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons of Kosher salt, divided
2 teaspoons of freshly ground black pepper, divided
2 tablespoons of Italian flat-leaf parsley, optional
Parmesan cheese, freshly grated, optional

Directions For Stove Top Method:
Melt the butter and olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the bread cubes making sure not to overcrowd the bread cubes and that they’re in a single layer in the pan. Season with Kosher salt and black pepper. Toss all the bread cubes around so they absorb the butter and olive oil. Sauté for a couple of minutes without turning. Once a golden brown, on the first side, then toss them again until brown all sides. This takes about 15 minutes. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.

Directions For The Oven Bake Method.
Preheat oven to 400-degrees F.
Start by evenly dividing the bread cubes out onto two rimmed baking sheet pans. Add olive oil, Kosher salt, and fresh ground black pepper, toss to evenly coat the bread cubes. Spread the bread cubes evenly into a single layer. Bake for 15 minutes turning them once halfway through the cooking process to make sure they brown evenly. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.

While the croutons are nice and hot add freshly chopped herbs and/or grated Parmesan cheese. Toss to combine.

Updated-Zuppa Toscana Soup With Homemade Parmesan Croutons

French Onion Soup With Mini-Meatballs

Stuffed Roasted Acorn Squash With Italian Sausage And Pears

Panzanella Salad

Sweet Italian Sausage, Mushroom, And Asparagus Strata

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French Onion Soup With Mini-Meatballs

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I love a bowl of French onion soup, but this time there’s a little something extra inside. This is my French Onion Soup With Mini-Meatballs.

Why can’t we take a traditional dish and make it our own? That’s just what I did. I added mini meatballs in with those sweet caramelized onions, savory broth, and covered by delicious cheese.

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Dutch Oven

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Flat Leaf Italian Parsley

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Ricotta

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Olive Oil

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Onions

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Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Yields: 6 servings
Equipment: 1 (6-quart) Dutch oven with a tight-fitting lid, 2 rimmed baking sheet pans, 1 large mixing bowl, 1 (medium-size) cookie-dough scoop

Ingredients For Meatballs:
2 pounds of ground pork (substitute ground beef, chicken, or turkey)
3 tablespoons of fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley (substitute 2 tablespoons of dried)
2 cloves of garlic, freshly grated
3/4 cup of ricotta cheese, whole milk
1/2 cup of heavy cream
5 dashes of Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup of store-bought fresh basil pesto
1 1/4 cups of Italian bread crumbs
2 tablespoons Kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons of freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons of dried oregano
2 extra-large eggs

Ingredients For the Soup:
2 tablespoons of olive oil
5 large sweet onions, thinly sliced into half-moons
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons of fresh thyme leaves, roughly chopped (substitute 1 tablespoon of dried)
1 tablespoon of Kosher salt
1 teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper
1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
3 tablespoons of dry Sherry
1 bay leaf
1 (10.5-ounce) can of beef consommè
1 quart plus 1 cup of beef broth, unsalted
1 loaf of baguette bread, sliced and toasted (2 per soup)
3 cups Gruyère cheese, freshly grated
6 sprigs of fresh thyme for garnish, optional

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350-degrees F.
Start by lining two rimmed baking sheet pans with parchment paper. Liberally spray the parchment with non-stick cooking spray.

I happened to have ground pork in my refrigerator so that’s what I’m using today.

In a large mixing bowl start with the flavorings for the meatballs first. Add ricotta cheese, fresh chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley, basil pesto, garlic, Kosher salt, fresh ground black pepper, dried oregano, Italian bread crumbs, Worcestershire sauce, eggs, and heavy cream, mix to combine. It’s important to mix all the flavorings first before adding the ground meat. This ensures you don’t overmix the meat and end up with tough meatballs. Using your hands, gently combine the meat distributing the flavorings evenly throughout.

Note: Using a cookie-dough scoop will ensure the meatballs will turn out the same size.

Using the medium-size cookie-dough scoop, scoop the mixture into your hands then roll them into mini-meatballs. Arrange the meatballs 1 to 2 inches apart onto parchment paper-lined baking sheet pans. The mixture yields approximately 36 meatballs.

Lightly spray the tops of the meatballs with non-stick cooking spray. Bake for 40 minutes.

In a preheated Dutch oven over medium heat, add olive oil, sliced onions, Kosher salt, fresh ground black pepper, sugar, fresh thyme, and red pepper flakes. Stirring frequently, cook until deep golden brown and caramelized, 30 to 40 minutes. Stir in the garlic until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Remove the meatballs from the oven.

Note: If the onions begin to burn on the bottom of the pot, reduce the heat slightly and stir in 1/4 cup of water.

Add the dry Sherry, scraping any browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Stir in the beef consommé, beef stock, and bay leaf.

Add the mini-meatballs. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally until slightly reduced, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove and discard the bay leaf.

Adjust the oven temperature to the broil setting.

Place baguette slices onto a rimmed baking sheet pan. Place into the oven and broil until golden brown on both sides, about 1 to 2 minutes per side. Set Aside.

Note: Add the bread and cheese at the time you’re ready to serve, otherwise, bring the soup to room temperature before storing in the refrigerator.

To Serve: Divide the soup into the 6 soup crocks. Place two slices of the toasted baguette to cover the surface of the soup completely. Distribute evenly, top with shredded Gruyère cheese. Set 2 soup crocks onto each baking sheet pan. Leave the oven door slightly ajar, broil for just a few minutes until the cheese is bubbly and golden brown, about 2 minutes.

Optional, garnish with small sprigs of fresh thyme. This is my French Onion Soup With Mini-Meatballs.

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