Tag Archives: carrots

Olive Garden Pasta E Fagioli

12 Sep

Recipe Source: CopyKat Recipes

As a busy blogger, it sometimes happens that I cook and photograph a dish, only to store it on my computer for a year before blogging it. This happens to be such a recipe, going back to my pre-vegetarian days. I haven’t made it lately, but suspect it would be just as delicious with the ground beef left out, or a meatless substitute.

colorful Pasta e Fagioli

This soup is wonderful and hearty, perfect for a cold day, even a light lunch. I’ve ordered it, along with a salad, many times in an attempt to control my portion size at Olive Garden – the only Italian restaurant in my small hometown.

I like that this soup can serve as a one-dish meal, as it combines vegetables, protein and pasta all-in-one. Throw in a side salad and piece of crusty bread, and it’s very satisfying. This is the first “CopyKat” recipe I’ve made, and it’s pretty spot-on from what I remember ordering in the restaurant. I scaled down the ingredients to make this more manageable for home cooking.

Pasta e FagioliBon Appetit! Or as they’d say on an Italian plate, Buon Appetito!

RECIPE – Olive Garden Pasta E Fagioli

2 teaspoons vegetable Oil
1 pound Ground beef
6 ounces Onion; chopped
7 ounces Carrots; slivered
7 ounces Celery; diced
24 ounces Tomatoes; canned, diced
1 cup cooked Red Kidney beans
1 cup cooked White kidney beans
44 ounces Beef stock
2 teaspoons Oregano
2 teaspoons Pepper
3 teaspoons Parsley; (fresh chopped)
1 teaspoons Tabasco sauce
24 ounces Marina Style Spaghetti sauce
4 ounces dry pasta Shell macaroni; or other pasta

Saute beef in oil in large 10-qt. pot until beef starts to brown. Add onions, carrots, celery and tomatoes and simmer for about 10 minutes. Drain and rinse beans and add to the pot. Also add beef stock, oregano, pepper, Tabasco, spaghetti sauce, and noodles. Add chopped parsley. Simmer until celery and carrots are tender, about 45 minutes.

Makes about 5 qts, serves 6.

Tip: If you want to freeze this soup, it is best when you don’t add the pasta, cooked pasta doesn’t freeze very well. If you freeze the soup you can always cook up some fresh pasta and stir it in when you are ready to serve your family.

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Supermoist Carrot Cake with Allspice Cream Cheese Frosting

3 Aug

Everything I eat has been proved by some doctor
or other to be a deadly poison, and everything
I don’t eat has been proved to be
indispensable for life. But I go marching on.

~George Bernard Shaw

Recipe Source: Cake adapted from my friend Lori’s college friend, Kristen
Frosting adapted from allrecipes.com

carrot cakeomg!

I’m a big fan of sweets – really. Sweets of all kinds, especially bready ones like cakes. But I’ve never really been a fan of carrot cake. I often find it a little dense and oily, and the frosting is entirely too sweet. But this recipe I got from one of my best friends, whose taste I trust, and who famously made this cake without carrots once, by accident. She assured me that even then, the cake turned out delicious! So with a review like that, I had to try it.

carrot cake batterDon’t forget the carrots!

I’ve made this cake four times now, always for a crowd, and I think I’ve perfected it. The taste has always been wonderful, but originally, it called for 1 1/2 cups of oil. I lined my pan with wax paper to make the cake easier to remove, and the oil seeped around and under the paper, it was so oily. So I worked to cut down the oil each time, first using half oil and half plain applesauce (3/4 cups each), then cutting the oil down to 1/2 cup, with 3/4 cups applesauce. And eureka – it’s wonderful!

sifting powdered sugarSift the powdered sugar into the frosting for the smoothest consistency

This cake comes out tall and spongy. It’s still super moist from all the carrots, and their flavor shines without the thick masking taste of the oil. The applesauce lends a bit of sweetness as well. Then I add in a little allspice to play with the cinnamon, since I top the cake with an allspice cream cheese frosting. I always cut the powdered sugar in half from the original frosting recipe, which makes it a tiny bit runnier than, say, a buttercream, but it’s loads better for you. Of course this cake is still far from diet food, but it weighs a little less heavy on my conscience with these adjustments! (bad puns, I shamefully admit, are fully intended)

frosting the cake*PLOP*

RECIPE – Supermoist Carrot Cake with Allspice Cream Cheese Frosting

Cake
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
4 eggs
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon allspice
3 cups (1 lb) grated carrots

Allspice Cream Cheese Frosting
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup butter, softened
3/4 teaspoon ground allspice
2-3 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons milk

Make the cake
Mix sugar, oil and applesauce, and beat, adding 1 egg at a time. Mix till fluffy.

Combine flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and allspice in a separate bowl.

Mix dry ingredients with wet ingredients.

Add carrots and mix well.

Bake in ungreased 9×13 pan (or two 10” rounds) at 350 degrees F for 20-30 minutes. Let cool.

Make the frosting
In a medium bowl, blend the cream cheese, butter, and allspice.

Gradually mix in the confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, and milk until the mixture is spreadable.

Optional: sprinkle frosted cake with chopped walnuts.

Lunchtime Quinoa Salad

22 Jul

Hey! This is an impromptu post because I was excited about my lunch today, and because I’ve been terrible at blogging lately. As such, I don’t have any pictures to share with you. But I hope this might inspire you with a break in the doldrums that can be packing a work lunch.

eat your veggies!
(Ah, what the heck, here’s a picture I stole from the interwebs.)

What I prepped for myself last night might well be called a “fridge-cleaning salad,” because I used almost entirely ingredients I had leftover from other cooking ventures. Here’s how it went:

quinoa – cooked fresh, since I always keep some on-hand from bulk bins
feta cheese – leftover from frittatas and salads
walnut oil, lemon zest, and black pepper – always on-hand
pine nuts – about 1 tablespoon left in the bag
black olives (sliced, from a can) – leftover from a frittata
cherry tomatoes – bought fresh
carrot – bought fresh
cilantro – bought fresh
red bell pepper – leftover from frittata and a tuna salad
onion – leftover from who-knows-what
jalapeno – leftover from a tuna salad

I have a tendency to get bored with cold, lettuce-based salads, so I really enjoyed using quinoa as a base this time. I nuked the quinoa for about 40 seconds and the veggie-feta mixture for about 10, just to remove the refrigerator chill before combining them. Quinoa is a great source of protein and fiber, as well as gluten-free, so it’s primo vegetarian fuel.

quinoaThis site has even more info about quinoa!

My cooking method is to boil 1 1/4 cups of water, then turn the heat to low and add in 3/4 cups of quinoa. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes. I used about half the quinoa in this batch, and the other half I’ll probably prep for breakfast (another blog to come in the future!).

veggie loveMuch to my delight, this made a yummy, healthy, and very filling salad! And it was good geeky fun to see how much I could throw into it. I’m sure I will be making more salads like this in the future.

If you decide to try this out, I’d love to hear about your concoction in the comments section! 🙂

Jicama Slaw with Herbacious Spicy Lime Vinaigrette

5 May

Recipe Source: What We’re Eating

scallions, cilantro, mint, jalapeno

I wish I could take credit for the name of this recipe, but alas, I can’t – it comes from a blog I recently stumbled upon via twitter (@whatwereeating), and the tone of the blog is as sassy as this recipe tastes! I love it, and I think you will, too.

If you think salads are mamby-pamby, think again, because this one is not for the faint of heart! THIS ONE is a flavor EXPLOSION! Or you might even like to say it’s like a party in your mouth. The serrano and raw onion give it a spicy kick, the lime juice and tamarind give it a refreshing tart zip, and the honey and jicama lend just enough sweetness to soften and round it out a bit, so no one flavor is overwhelming, but all blend together for an ultra-unique, utterly fabulous mix.

tamarind paste

This salad is a good deal of work to put together, so I reserve it for occasions where I’m going to be serving people. And so long as a lot of people will be noshing on it, I recommend doubling the recipe below. The way this is written, you will have leftover dressing. If you pair the salad with fish, as the original authors suggest, you can spoon the dressing onto the fish as well. Or save it to dress another salad, or use it all if you like soppy salads and living dangerously.

veggies - jicama, carrots, red onion, snow peas

The only modification I made from the original was to cut the amount of red onion in half, because I found it a bit too intense after a day or so. If you have a food processor with a grating blade, this is the time to use it – the jicama and carrots are shredded with perfect, fast uniformity. This is a great dish to take along to an outdoor summer picnic, I hope you’ll enjoy it!

jicama slaw

RECIPE – Jicama Slaw with Herbacious Spicy Lime Vinaigrette

for salad:
2 cups jicama, thinly julienned
1 cup snow peas, thinly julienned
1 cup carrots, thinly julienned
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

for herbacious spicy lime vinaigrette:
1 packed cup cilantro, roughly chopped
3/4 cup fresh mint, roughly chopped
2 green onions, roughly chopped
1 serrano peppers, roughly chopped, (seeded or unseeded depending on how spicy you like it)
1 1/2 tsp cumin seeds, toasted and freshly ground (can substitute store bought ground cumin but doesn’t have the same flavor)
1 1/2 tbsp tamarind paste
2 tbsp water
2 tsp honey
1/4 cup fresh squeezed lime juice
1/4-1/2 cup canola oil, depending on how tart you like it
kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

make the vinaigrette:
Dissolve the tamarind paste in 2 tbsp of water. Add the tamarind/water mixture, cilantro, mint, green onions, serrano peppers, ground cumin, honey, and lime to a food processor. Process the ingredients until the herbs and peppers have been fully pulverized into tiny little bits. While the food processor is running, slowly drizzle in the oil to form an emulsified vinaigrette. Taste the dressing and season with salt and pepper as necessary.

assemble the salad:
In a mixing bowl, add the julienned jicama, snow peas, carrots and red onions. Pour about half of the vinaigrette over the julienned veggies then toss to coat. Taste the salad then season with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper as necessary. Chill the salad for at least 20 minutes before serving.

This salad goes great with some simply seasoned and seared fish, such as red snapper. Enjoy!

“Magic” Fruit & Veggie Muffins

30 Apr

Recipe source: Food Network

I pride myself on having a well-stocked kitchen. Especially when it comes to baking, I can make any number of recipes on a moment’s notice with just what is stocked in my pantry. I have all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, corn flour, cake flour, garbanzo flour and gluten-free flour. But oh, noooo. THAT wasn’t ENOUGH for Miss d’Arabian, who came along with her crazy 17-ingredient recipe for “Magic Fruit & Veggie Muffins” that might be a nutritionist’s dream, but are a minimalist’s nightmare. Well, I’m not a minimalist, I’m pretty adventurous in the kitchen and a little bit stubborn. So that means I had to try this, and promptly went out to buy the soy flour and wheat germ I was lacking. Because HEAVEN FORBID I go without those in my house!!

17 ingredients

And I have to say, I was glad I did. This recipe makes stellar breakfast muffins, and not the “cake for grown-ups” kind of muffins, but really yummy, relatively low-sugar, nutrition-packed bready goodness. I only made two changes to the recipe, swapping out olive oil for coconut and whole milk for almond. I liked the idea of using two fruits and two vegetables, so I chose bananas and dried dates (plus the raisins I was too lazy to pick out of my raisin bran cereal), and carrots and zucchini. It will be fun to try different combinations of this recipe in the future, but I’d highly recommend sticking with bananas as they made the muffins wonderfully moist.

muffin tray
I was also happy to discover that the recipe yielded much more than it said it would – about 26 full-size muffins as opposed to 24 mini muffins. This would not be worth the work for less. Try them today!

muffin
RECIPE – Magic Fruit & Veggie Muffins

Cooking spray (optional)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole-wheat flour
2 tablespoons soy flour
4 tablespoons wheat germ
1 cup bran flakes cereal or old-fashioned oats (or a combination)
1/2 cup ground flax seeds
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt
2 large eggs
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar, plus more for topping (optional)
4 tablespoons safflower or coconut oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons whole milk
1 1/2 cups grated or finely chopped vegetables (carrots, zucchini and/or spinach)
1 1/2 cups grated or finely chopped fresh or dried fruit (apples, pears, pineapple and/or raisins)

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two 12-cup muffin pans with paper liners or mist with cooking spray.

Whisk the flours, wheat germ, bran flakes, flax seeds, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl; set aside. Beat the egg and brown sugar in a medium bowl with a wooden spoon until smooth. Add the oil, vanilla, milk, vegetables, and fruit, and mix well.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry mixture and stir just until blended.

Spoon the batter into the prepared pans, filling each cup about three-quarters of the way. Sprinkle the tops with brown sugar, if desired. Bake for 20 to 24 minutes. Remove from the pans and cool on a rack.

Makes ~24 muffins

Portobello or Chicken Pot Pie

22 Jan

Recipe Source: Adapted from allrecipes.com

For my first recipe of 2011 – albeit a bit tardy – I want to share with you my last meal of 2010. (Boy, that sounds morbid!) After New Year’s Eve plans with friends fell through and our enthusiasm for celebrating increasingly waned, the prospect of staying in with a home-cooked meal and fire in the fake electric fireplace became increasingly attractive. We decided to perfect our pot pie-making skills.

I originally made a portobello version of this pie for a group of my best friends, which includes a vegetarian. But the recipe can easily be adapted for meat-eaters by substituting chicken and chicken stock for the portobello caps and vegetable stock.

I also made a number of modifications based on consistent reviews from allrecipes, such as increasing the amount of flour for the gravy, using stock in place of water, and adding a splash of wine. The proportions here are half of what they were in the original recipe, since we made two pies with it!

filling pot pie

Part I: Make your own crust. It’s worth it.

My go-to recipe for crust is David’s go-to recipe, which he and his mother have perfected after years of baking amazing apple tarts. If you’re pressed for time, the crust can be made partially or entirely overnight.

Are you ready for the Golden Proportion?

200g all-purpose flour
100g cold butter (or 1 stick)
100g cold water

This will make enough crust to fill the bottom of an 11-inch tart pan. For the pot pie, which uses a 9-inch pie dish and needs a top and bottom crust, we used 1.5 times the recipe, so 300g flour, 1.5 sticks butter and 150g of water. (Yes, you need a scale. Every real cook should have one, and if you want to make your own crust, you are a real cook! :))

There are a couple of ways to accomplish mixing the dough together. The easiest method is to beat the flour and butter in a food processor while slowly pouring in the water. Be careful not to overbeat the butter – coarse crumbs will result in a flaky dough. It’s better to undermix than overmix, at this stage.

Or, for a more “rustic” method, you can cut the butter into the flour in a large bowl using a pastry cutter then form a well in the center, pour in the water, and continue mashing the flour mixture to incorporate. Note: you’ll want to avoid using your hands during this process, as their warmth will melt the butter and reduce the flakiness of the finished crust. And when it comes to crust, it’s good to be flaky!

Form a ball with the dough and turn it out onto a piece of plastic wrap. Flatten the ball into a disk, wrap it tightly, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, or overnight. Then remove the dough from the fridge and, on a smooth, floured surface, roll it into a thin strip, about 5 inches wide, 10 inches long and 1/2-inch thick. (If the dough has been chilling overnight, let it sit out for about 5 minutes so it will be easier to work with.)

rollling dough

Fold the top and bottom ends over to meet in the center, then fold in half. Roll the dough out again, repeating this process twice. You’ll want to do this step quickly, so the butter does not melt. Wrap the dough again and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

folding dough

At this point, preheat your oven to 425 degrees F. Finish the crust with one more round of rolling and folding, then cut 1/2 off the end to save for your top crust. Wrap and refrigerate this portion.

cutting dough

Roll the dough into a thin disk large enough to fill your pie dish on the bottom and up the sides. When the dough is about the size you want, let it “relax” for a minute or two. The dough will shrink slightly, then you can roll it a second time. You don’t want it shrinking in your pie dish!

Finally, fold the disk into quarters (a dough scraper can be a great help with this, if you have one, otherwise use the thinnest scraper you have) and place it in the pie dish. Unfold the dough and gently adjust it as needed to evenly fill the dish.

quartered dough

Lightly prick the bottom of the dough with a fork. Cut a piece of parchment paper (not wax!) into a circle the size of the bottom of your pie dish, and place it onto the dough. Over that, pour enough pie weights to cover the parchment paper. Large, raw beans such as black or pinto are great to use as pie weights and inexpensive – but avoid small legumes such as lentils, and especially avoid popcorn!

pie weights

Bake the crust for 15 minutes, remove the parchment paper and weights, and bake for another 3 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Part II: Make the filling.

To make the filling, start by boiling three potatoes. I like red potatoes for this, but you can use any kind you like. (If they are larger, account for the difference by using two.) Lightly steam the peas, if frozen. If you are making a chicken pot pie, lightly salt and pepper both sides of a chicken breast, and cook through in a pan over medium-low heat. Cut into bite-size pieces and set the meat aside for later.

potatoes

Next, chop the onions, celery, carrots, and shiitake and portobello mushrooms (if using). I like everything in this pie to be a fairly fine dice, slightly smaller than bite-sized.

veggies

Saute the carrots and celery for about five minutes, then add in the all remaining veggies except portobello mushrooms and saute another 5-8 minutes, adding salt and pepper to taste. If you’re making the portobello version of this pie, add the portobellos last. Otherwise, add in the chicken here. To make the gravy, whisk the flour into the stock and wine in a medium bowl, then pour into the vegetables and stir to incorporate everything. Finally, pour the filling into your pre-baked pie crush.

pot pie filling

Remove the reserved dough from the refrigerator, roll it into a disc large enough to overlap your pie dish by about one inch on all sides, and gently drape the dough over the pie.

baked pot pie

Part III: Bake, eat.

Bake for 40 minutes in a 350-degree oven, until the crust is golden brown. Then chow down on that baby!

pie slice

RECIPE – Portobello or Chicken Pot Pie

For crust:
300g all-purpose flour
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) cold butter
150g cold water
OR 2 (9 inch) unbaked pie crusts

For the filling:
3 small red potatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup sliced onion
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 carrot, cubed
1/2 cup thinly sliced shiitake mushrooms (or a blend)
1 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1/4 cup white wine
2 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 portobello mushroom cap or 1 small chicken breast, cut into bite size pieces
1/2 cup peas
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
1 teaspoon fresh oregano
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Press one of the pie crusts into and up the sides of a 9 inch pie plate. Prick holes into crust with a fork, cover with parchment paper and Bring a saucepan of water to a boil. Add potatoes and cook until tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Drain, and cut into cubes. Set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large saucepan over low heat. Add onion, celery, carrot, and shiitake mushrooms, cover, and let the mushrooms sweat for about 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Whisk flour into stock and pour mixture along with wine and soy sauce into saucepan. Bring to a boil and allow to simmer.

Heat remaining olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add portobello or chicken pieces and sauté briefly until mushrooms are browned on the outside or chicken is cooked through. Add to the gravy mixture along with the peas and potatoes. Simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with thyme, oregano, salt and pepper.

Pour the mixture into the prepared crust. Cover with the other pie crust, and crimp edges to seal. Make a few slits in the top crust to vent steam.

Bake for 40 minutes in the preheated oven, until crust is golden brown.

Roasted Vegetable Soup & Homemade Croutons

23 Dec

The greatest delight of the fields and woods minister is the suggestion of an occult relation between man and the vegetable.
I am not alone and unacknowledged. They nod to me and I to them.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Recipe source: Adapted from Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa Family Style

Well, it’s official, we’re now two days into winter. And besides cold weather and Christmas just around the bend, what that mostly means for me is a bellyache from the overwhelming amount of cookies, cakes, pies, chocolates, fudge and what-have-you everywhere in my sight. Co-workers make them, friends give them, and it would be rude not to consume them… right? Since you might be facing this dilemma as well, I thought I’d supply you with a little detox.

Soup is always a comfort on a cold winter day, and easy to eat when you have a cold. This recipe is extremely variable and can be adjusted to use whatever vegetables are in season throughout the year. For now, it’s carrots, parsnips, sweet potatoes, and butternut squash.

The first time I made this recipe, I followed Ina Garten’s instructions to a tee, and wasn’t thrilled. It was too carrot-ey for me, and just overall bland.

roasted veggies

So, I halved the amount of carrots and added an eggplant.

roasted veggies

I also added a ton of flavor with my no-so-secret weapons, onion, garlic, and ginger. I think onions and garlic should appear in just about any savory dish, and especially soups, so I’m surprised Ina didn’t include them the first time around. (puzzled face)

onions, garlic, ginger

Regardless. To make this soup, you will chop the vegetables of your choice, toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and roast in a 425-degree oven for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, saute the onions, garlic, and ginger in a large soup pot, then transfer to a food processor and puree. When the vegetables come out of the oven, add them to the food processor and puree as well. How long you puree depends on the texture you like – I like my soup slightly chunky.

pouring stock

If you have a super-cool food processor with a pouring tube like this, slowly pour 3 cups of chicken or vegetable sock while the blade is spinning to keep the processor from jamming. If not, remove the lid and add your stock incrementally between pulses.

Just before serving, pour the mixture back into the pot and heat to warm.

Ina’s soup:
roasted vegetable soup

My soup:
roasted vegetable soup

This soup is delicious serve with some kind of bread. When I’m in a hurry, I like lightly toasted rosemary bread. In a major hurry, Breton crackers. But if I have a little more time, homemade croutons are wonderful… provided I can resist eating the oil and salt-soaked bread before toasting it! I like to use sourdough for this, but you can use any loaf you like.

sourdough loaf

Wishing you a warm and happy winter surrounded by those you love. xox

RECIPE – Roasted Vegetable Soup

2 carrots, peeled
1 parsnip, peeled
1 sweet potato, peeled
1 eggplant
1/2 small butternut squash (about 2 pounds), peeled and seeded
3 tablespoons good olive oil
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, chopped
1/2 white onion
3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Brioche croutons, recipe follows
Good olive oil

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Cut the carrots, parsnip, sweet potato, eggplant, and butternut squash in 1- to 1 1/4-inch cubes. All the vegetables will shrink while baking, so don’t cut them too small.

Place all the cut vegetables in a large bowl or gallon-size freezer bag, drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and toss well to coat. Spread vegetables in a single layer on 2 sheet pans. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, until all the vegetables are tender, turning once with a metal spatula.

Meanwhile, saute garlic and ginger in about two tablespoons of olive oil in a large soup pot for about 1 minute. Add in diced onion and saute for about 5 minutes, until onions are lightly browned. Transfer onion mixture to a food processor and puree.

In two batches, coarsely puree the roasted vegetables with the onion mixture, pouring in chicken or vegetable stock to aid the food processor as you go. Pour the pureed vegetables back into the soup pot and season, to taste. Thin with more stock if desired, and reheat. The soup should be thick but not like a vegetable puree, so add more stock and/or water until it’s the consistency you like. Serve with homemade croutons or crusty bread.

Serves 4

RECIPE – Homemade Croutons (skip if gluten-free)

1 12-ounce loaf of bread (sourdough, brioche, challah)
2 tablespoons good olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Slice the bread about 3/4 inch thick. Cut off the crusts and then cut the slices in 3/4 inch dice. You should have 6 to 8 cups of croutons.

Place the croutons on a sheet pan and toss them with the olive oil, salt, and pepper. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, tossing once, until they are nicely browned on all sides. Cool to room temperature before using and store in a sealed plastic bag.