There are some foods and dishes that I don’t think are worthy of a recipe- foods that are all essentially the same with small variations in the spices or flavoring. Among these foods are croutons (also known as toasted stale bread)- mix the bread with some oil and bake. Not exactly a great culinary achievement. However, after making these cheesy vegan croutons (and eating almost half of them before I finished typing this post) I began to change my tune. Yes, they’re just croutons. And yes, they’re only bread, oil and spices. And yes, they rely heavily on nutritional yeast, basically the cheapest vegan trick in the book. But they’re also fantastic- cheesy, salty, crunchy, chewy on the inside- and decidedly recipe-worthy.
I’ve made a lot of croutons in my day- both my sister and my boyfriend have worked at the same bakery, Iggy’s Bread, and at the end of the day a lot of unsold loafs find there way back to our house. Part of what makes Iggy’s bread so great is that it is made with high quality ingredients and is free of preservatives- which means in turn that their bread is best consumed quickly. So on the occasions that I’ve been unable to keep up with the influx of bread, I’ve turned to croutons to lengthen their shelf life (after all, croutons don’t mind being a little stale). You can make croutons with any type of bread, but for these cheesy vegan croutons I highly recommend using a sourdough (I used a francese) as it will give you the most interesting flavor and textures.
As I’ve hinted in the title, and in my previous rant about overly simplistic recipes, these croutons are pretty basic. After slicing the bread into cubes, you use a mixing bowl to massage in the oil, salt, garlic powder and nutritional yeast. From there is into the oven, take out once and flip, back in and we’re done. They’ll harden a little as they cool, and will taste great on salad, in soup, dipped in hummus or dips, or (my favorite) eaten alone as a snack.
Quick and Easy Cheesy Vegan Croutons
- 1 lb. stale bread (sourdough is best)
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 tbsp. nutritional yeast
- 1 tsp. garlic powder
- ½ tsp. salt
1. Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Cut the bread into ½-1 inch chunks and place in a large bowl. Add the olive oil, nutritional yeast, garlic powder and salt and use your hands to toss the spices and oil evenly on the bread.
2. Place in the oven for 10 minutes, remove and flip before returning to the oven for another 5-10 minutes (depending on how crispy you like them).