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23 July 2006

Herbed Croutons (Cooks Illustrated)

Herbed Croutons

Makes 4 cups

Nearly any type of bread will make decent croutons. Be careful, however, when using distinctly flavored breads such as pumpernickel, rye, and sourdough--their strong tastes might not work well with some of the ingredients in the variations. Each of the following recipes makes enough for at least two 2- to 3-quart salads and any leftovers will keep in an airtight container or zipper-lock bag for about 1 week.

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 cloves garlic , minced

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary or 1/2 teaspoon dried

2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves , sage, or dill or 1/2 teaspoon dried

1/4 teaspoon table salt

4 cups (1/2-inch) bread cubes

Adjust an oven rack to the center position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Whisk the oil, garlic, pepper, rosemary, other herb of choice, and salt together in a large bowl. Add the bread cubes and toss until thoroughly coated. Spread the bread onto a baking sheet and bake until golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Allow the croutons to cool to room temperature before serving.