Weekend Project: Toasted Croutons and Bruschetta Bases

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Every Saturday I treat myself to a long, crusty French baguette—or two or three, if I’m having guests over for dinner. And every Sunday, I wake up to one half to three-quarters (or more) of leftover baguette that’s hardened overnight to a point where it’s no longer palatable except as toast. (This happens because baguettes are just flour, yeast, water and salt; there are no shelf life-lengthening preservatives or tenderizing sourdough starters.) By Monday, it will be too hard to slice.

I can only eat so much buttered toast on Sunday morning, so I’ve started making croutons and bruschetta bases. I slice the bread very thin, spread the slices on a baking sheet, brush them with garlic oil (1/4 cup olive oil plus 1 clove minced garlic combined and warmed in a microwave for 30 seconds), sprinkle them with sea salt, then toast them in a 350 ° F oven for 10 to 12 minutes. Once cooled, these croutons/bruschetta bases can be set atop soups, spread with cheese, or dolloped with dips and toppings. They’re even good plain as a snack. They’ll keep at least two weeks in an airtight container—I couldn’t say if they’ll keep longer because I always seem to finish them off before I have a chance to make another round.