As told to Vidya Rao
I’m really into croutons – buttery, crunchy croutons. When I need some comfort food or I’m having a bad day, that’s what I look for.
I think it’s ’cause I’m Italian, and the texture – crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside – goes back to comfort food I grew up eating.
I always ate bread and pasta in the winter, so croutons bring me back to my childhood. My husband loves popcorn, especially when he wants something satisfying, something for mindless eating. Some eat chips, some eat cookies or brownies – we all have food that gives us a soothing , deep breath that makes the mind and body feel good. For me, it’s all about the croutons.
In January, I made some really awesome croutons for the InStyle Golden Globe party, and the flame just reignited for me. My favorite croutons are homemade, using country-style white bread and lots of olive oil – and I mean LOTS, so they actually soak the bread and make it all moist. Sometimes I use half olive oil and half butter, then toss them with kosher salt and herbes de Provence and put them in the oven at 350F to let them toast about 8 minutes. I like big pieces rather than small ones, because there’s more crunch in every bite.
Croutons offer me a little splurge moment. I’ve been on the road for quite some time now, and I try to find them wherever I can. I usually don’t like store-bought croutons – I like mine gourmet. Nowadays, you can get semi-homemade croutons at the grocery store.
I was in New York for six weeks and had such a bad craving for them. My makeup artist, Julie, realized I was obsessed and she found some delicious croutons at Quality Meats. She got a bunch of to-go containers and filled them up with croutons – that was her gift to me for Valentine’s Day.
La Brea Bakery and Barney’s Restaurant also have some good ones that are really nice and buttery.
Now, I pack up Ziploc bags with croutons and carry them with me wherever I go. I used to do that with chocolate chips – the obsession changes every few months. But at this moment, there’s nothing quite as comforting, crunchy and satisfying as a good crouton.
Tell us, what’s your current food obsession?
Tune in to see Giada De Laurentiis on TODAY on Tuesday, March 27, when she'll be sharing recipes from her new book, "Weeknights with Giada."
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