We often expend all our effort and energy on the main event in cooking, when really, it's the bits on the side that make a dish memorable: the last minute sprinkle of herbs, the flurry of Parmesan, the scattering of nuts. They're what turns a dish from hmm, okay to hell, yeah!
A homemade crouton is maybe the ultimate irresistible garnish for almost any salad or soup. Commercial croutons are pretty cardboardy and blah - but if you make them yourself, using great quality sourdough and good olive oil, they will add a bit of magic wherever you sprinkle them. They're even (in the most generous application of the word) healthy! Make more than you need and store any remainders in an airtight container - you will thank yourself for your forethought. Oh, and you can also blitz leftovers to make crunchy pangrattato to sprinkle on pasta dishes instead of Parmesan. So delicious.
1 sourdough loaf - we used Iggy's country loaf - crusts removed and cut into 2 cm cubes
50ml olive oil
30g Parmesan, grated finely
Good pinch of sea salt
Grind of black pepper
Toss all the ingredients together, making sure every cube of bread is coated in oil and cheese.
Spread out on a paper-lined baking tray and bake in a preheated 170 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until golden all over; you may need to turn them once or twice.
Cool and serve scattered over a green leaf salad or any soup.