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Let's Dish With Linda Lou

Sharing My Recipes, My Life, And The Food Tale Of Two Cities

Homemade Ciabatta Croutons

Tuscan Sausage, Kale And Potato Soup

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Panzanella Salad (2)

Sweet Italian Sausage, Mushroom, And Asparagus Strata

There is nothing better than Homemade Ciabatta Croutons. Whenever I make croutons, they’re usually made from cutting up a special Artisan bread I 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.

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

My Tuscan Soups, French Onion Soup, Stuffed Acorn Squash, Rotisserie Chicken Salad, Panzanella Salad, 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.

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Tuscan Soup (40)

Homemade Ciabatta Croutons (1)

 

 

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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 unsalted butter
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 teaspoon of Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Freshly chopped fresh herbs, optional
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, 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
Freshly chopped fresh herbs, optional
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, 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 350-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 this is the time to add freshly chopped herbs, grated Parmesan cheese, or both. Toss to combine.

 

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Panzanella Salad With A Twist

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Having my daughter visit recently, I needed to make a “meat free” meal for her. Now, in our house, Steve loves “meat free” meals once and a while, however; for the main course, he prefers to have some type of protein. I’m thinking what better way to do this than with a Panzanella Salad that makes everyone happy. This traditional Italian salad is basically a tomato and bread salad. Today I’m going to put a spin on tradition.

Ingredients:

Directions:
In a large bowl,  take one English, seedless cucumber, seeded with a spoon, and cut into half moons. Take the half moons and cut them in half. Slice 1/2 a red onion into thinly sliced half moons. Next, dice up 1 yellow bell pepper into large dice. A pint each of the yellow and red grape tomatoes halved, and toss them into the bowl as well. Add all these ingredients to the bowl. Take a quarter cup of pitted Kalamata olives and chop them up and add them in with the other ingredients.

In a separate bowl, I diced up 3/4 of a pound of Genoa salami that I bought from the deli. I had them slice it in one large piece, making it easier to dice.  Steve has the option then to add this right to his salad and not interfering with the integrity of the traditional Panzanella salad.

Next, is the dressing, and the bread that makes this salad so wonderful. I cubed up a loaf of Ciabatta bread crusts and all, and spread the cubes over two baking sheets. Drizzled them with olive oil, and a light sprinkling of Kosher salt and pepper. In a preheated 400 degree oven bake for 15 minutes, or until they are golden brown. I like to shake the pans half way through the baking process, so that the bread gets tossed around a bit, and I can get a better feel for when the bread’s texture is just right.

Note: This recipe works even better if you have a loaf of day old bread. This will allow the bread to absorb the dressing much better.

Once the croutons are done, immediately place them into the bowl with the rest of the ingredients. The hot croutons will absorb the dressing much better.

This vinaigrette can be made while the croutons are in the oven.  In another bowl add 1/4 cup of fresh lemon juice, 1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard, 1 clove of grated garlic, 2 tablespoons of dried oregano, 1 tablespoon of Agave nectar, 1 tablespoon of Kosher salt, 1 teaspoon of black pepper.  Slowly drizzle in 1/2 a cup of E.V.O.O. Whisk this all together and just pour the dressing over the salad.

Toss all the ingredients together so the bread cubes gets coated in that delicious dressing. Finally, dice up 6 ounces of good Feta cheese. The reason I add this in last is so the cheese will keep its integrity.  Finish by adding in 3 tablespoons of fresh chopped basil leaves. You can toss in some of that delicious Genoa salami to your salad for that little something extra.

 

2014-10-26 17.58.40Prep Time:: 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Equipment: 2 baking sheets

Ingredients:
1 English cucumber, cut into half moons then cut half moon in half
1/2 red onion sliced into thinly sliced half moons
1 large diced yellow bell pepper
1 pint each of red and yellow grape tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup of pitted and chopped Kalamata olives
1/4 pound of diced Genoa salami (optional)
6 ounces of diced Feta cheese
1 loaf of cubed Ciabatta bread baked off into croutons
1/4 cup of olive oil (for croutons)
1 tablespoon of Kosher salt (for croutons)
1 teaspoon of fresh cracked black pepper ( for croutons)
3 tablespoons of freshly chopped basil leaves

Dressing:
1/4 cup of fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard
1 clove of freshly grated garlic
2 tablespoons of dried oregano
1 tablespoon Agave nectar
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon of fresh cracked black pepper
1/2 cup of E.V.O.O

 

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