Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Grain Free Croutons

This is a great recipe: http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/potato-crouton-recipe.html

Seriously great, even though the original recipe involves potatoes. If you are allergic to nightshades, though, don't despair, as there are nightshade-free versions of this. One of the reasons I love this recipe is because for folks who are trying to make better food with limited supplies, it's more of a method than an actual recipe. A way to make some crunchy goodness to add to salads and baked potatoes and so on, and it can work with tons of foods.

Basic grain-free crouton method.

1. Cut a veggie up into small cubes.
The size may be different for each veggie, depending on how long it takes to cook and how quickly it browns on the outside. You'll want it small enough to cook all the way through in five minutes or so. 1/3 of an inch in width works for potatoes, like the above recipes says. I've tried this recipe now with potatoes, patty pan squash, and yellow crookneck squash. I think it could be done with sweeter veggies like sweet potatoes or carrots, but it takes more fiddling to get the heat right, as a higher sugar content means it can burn faster.

2. Cook in a skillet with oil and salt (or whatever seasonings) for a few minutes, cover ON. Medium heat is what was used for the potato croutons, and has worked all right with the squash I've tried.  The cover is important - it helps steam the veggies a bit during cooking.  I think if you have a veggie with less water content, you may want to change this a bit. Like, maybe leave out the oil, add a tsp or so of water, and cook for a minute or so. When the water has evaporated, maybe THEN add the oil. Just a thought.

3. When the veggie is only just cooked through, take off cover, turn up heat, and stir every minute (or more) as you brown the veggie until crispy. Med-high works for potatoes. You can add seasonings hear, too, if you like, or if they need less heat.  If you want to add these to salads, you probably want to let them cool a bit or it'll wilt any greens.

Again, this recipe could work for multiple veggies. Squash, potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, maybe eggplant? I'm not sure that would crisp up well, would be my one concern. Beets might work well, too, but like the other sweet veggies, you have to fiddle with the heat more to prevent burning. You could probably pull off turnips and rutabagas, too, for a different kind of crouton, like to go with, hmm, something meaty, maybe?

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