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Savoring the Southwest: Spicy Parmesan Croutons

It doesn't matter what type of bread you use. Simply cut the bread into cubes.
It doesn't matter what type of bread you use. Simply cut the bread into cubes.
Chef Larry Edwards/Casa de Cuisine

** Savoring the Southwest is a new cooking/food column from internationally acclaimed chef and bestselling cookbook author, Larry Edwards. In this Examiner exclusive series, the chef will take you through the wonders of Southwest cooking and food. Along with each of the dishes the chef will present, there will also be a how-to slideshow. Learn the art of Southwest cooking and enjoy every delicious bite! **

It has happened to all of us. You buy some bread and then before you've used the whole loaf, it starts to dry out. In most cases you simply toss the remaining bread and head to the market and buy another loaf. This is called "food waste" and food waste is not only a bad thing, in the course of a year it can cost you quite a bit of money.

The next time you think of tossing that "old" bread, you might want to do something special and delicious with it. You might want to take a few minutes of time and make some scrumptious Spicy Parmesan Croutons! You can make these croutons with any variety of bread, whether it be the plain ol' white bread or the more tasty sourdough and rye. Even better, if you're a bread fan like myself, you can combine them.

There is really no set amounts as far as the ingredients for making Spicy Parmesan Croutons. You have total control over the flavors. You can make them mild or you can make them extra spicy. In the case of this recipe, we will be using spices and herbs associated with the flavors of the great America Southwest.

The only real important thing you have to remember is that you will want the right amount of olive oil to both moisten the cubed dried bread and for the spices and herbs to adhere to. The right amount depends on how much bread you are using.

Once you have made your croutons, simply keep them in an air-tight container. Fresh croutons will not only greatly accentuate your salads, they are also a great snack to nibble on while watching your favorite movie or television show.

Ingredients needed to make Spicy Parmesan Croutons:

  • Leftover bread, cut into cubes
  • Dried basil, crumbled
  • Chili powder
  • Ground cumin
  • Celery salt
  • Garlic salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • Ground sage
  • Olive oil
  • Shredded Parmesan cheese

Steps:

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil.
  2. Place the cubed bread into a large bowl.
  3. Add all the spices to the bread and toss to coat.
  4. Add the olive oil (see note about) and toss until the bread is coated and the spices/herbs are combined.
  5. Add the shredded Parmesan cheese and toss to combine.
  6. Place into the oven and bake 20 minutes, tossing the croutons a few times.
  7. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.
  8. Place into an air-tight container until ready to use.

The new cookbook from Chef Larry Edwards is now available from Amazon.com and bookstores worldwide. One of the most anticipated cookbooks of the year, "Edwardian Cooking: Inspired by Downton Abbey's Elegant Meals."