Crispy on the outside, creamy on the inside.
It has been almost six years since I created this recipe, but it is still my favorite type of crouton. We no longer live in New Hampshire, but on a trip there last year, we stopped at The Foundry. I excitedly ordered the Caesar salad and sadly discovered they no longer make the polenta croutons. Now, I’m even happier to have my own recipe to make these croutons whenever I crave them.
Discovering polenta croutons
As I’ve mentioned, our new go-to restaurant for just the two of us is The Foundry. I’ve also mentioned that they have my all-time favorite croutons in a recent Finally Friday column. As a fan of Caesar salad with chicken, I’ve eaten them at many, many restaurants. Since I can be a discriminating (AKA picky) eater, at many restaurants I just push the croutons to the side. At The Foundry I never do that.
See, their croutons are made with polenta. They have this delightfully crunchy outside and a creamy inside, which makes for delightful bites of happiness well worth eating. Their croutons almost always make it hard for me to want to stray from the salad, or at the very least I start with a side Caesar. Just for the croutons. (Well, who am I kidding? I do it for the leafy goodness of the salad also. Seriously.)
How this recipe began
The other week when I was planning dinner for just my daughter and me, I decided to make Caesar salad with chicken, as it was a hot day. I thought we had half of a boule left to make croutons. Apparently while I was away for the weekend it was finished. I was disappointed, as I had my mind set on serving croutons with the salad when inspiration struck. Why not try making my own polenta croutons?
I honestly don’t know why I didn’t do this sooner. So often a menu item provides inspiration for my home cooking. With the goal in mind, I began thinking about how I would create my own little bites of crouton happiness. Quite happily my first attempt was a success, which has led to a few more batches for photography and sharing.
If my garlic & parmesan croutons didn’t convince you to make your own (or even if they did), you need to give these a try. You’ll be saying goodbye to store bought croutons in no time, as well as the store bought dressing, because I know you want to make my homemade Caesar dressing also, right?
- 2 cups water
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup polenta
- 2 tablespoons grated parmesan
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided, plus extra for greasing pan
- Grease 9X5 pan with butter.
- Bring salted water to boil.
- Slowly whisk in polenta.
- Reduce to a simmer; stir constantly until thick (about 10 minutes).
- Stir in parmesan and 1 tablespoon butter.
- Transfer to greased pan and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 400.
- Take polenta out of refrigerator and cut into 1” cubes, keeping them in the pan.
- Melt 1 tablespoon butter; brush top of polenta cubes with butter.
- Transfer polenta cubes to parchment paper lined tray, butter side down.
- Brush tops of cubes with remaining butter.
- Bake for 20 minutes; flip.
- Bake for an additional 20 minutes.
- Serve on top of salad. (Or eat directly off of baking tray!)