I love croutons in any form, in salads, soups or just on their own. Cheese, roasted eggplant and caramelized onions make these croutons even more irresistible. These were absolutely lip-smacking and super easy to make. I bet you can’t stop with one that is if you don’t have anything against eggplants. Many do. But even diehard eggplant haters might change their minds with this one. The eggplants (note that I don’t say brinjal. Brinjal is for sambar and gotsu, Eggplant is for croutons and pasta) are sliced so fine and ever so lightly sautéed before being baked atop the cheese laden croutons. They just melt in your mouth. If you wish you could switch these toppings with just about any other vegetable of your choice – mushroom (vegetable or not?), paneer (though not a vegetable), sweet corn or chopped tomatoes would all be nice variations.
I am posting these cheesy croutons for the third day of the Blogging Marathon for the theme – Mini Servings and to the Kid’s delight event hosted by Nisha of The Magic Saucepan. These cheesy croutons would make great party appetizers too. Easy to put together and make-ahead starters that you can bake at the last minute just before serving.
Prep time: 15 mins
Cooking time: 10 mins (5 mins sautéing + 5 mins baking)
Makes: 24 croutons
Bread – 4 slices cut into cubes (1 slice into 6 cubes)
1 medium Eggplant – sliced really thin (I used the purple variety)
Grated Cheddar Cheese – ½ cup
Onion – 1 small sliced fine
Minced Garlic – ½ tsp
Olive oil/Butter – 1 tbsp + 2 tbsp
Italian seasoning – 1/2 tsp (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees C.
2. Cut bread slices into cubes. Don’t bother removing the crust. Arrange these on a baking sheet. Brush the top of each cube with a little bit of softened butter or olive oil. Set aside.
3. In a pan, heat the remaining olive oil/butter and add the minced garlic and sauté for just a minute. Add the sliced onions and sauté till they are soft and caramelized about 5-7 minutes. Remove the onions and garlic to a bowl. Season with Italian seasoning if using. Set aside.
4. In the same skillet, throw in the sliced eggplants and cook on low for 1-2 minutes till soft. Remove to a plate.
5. To assemble, place some grated cheese on each of the bread cubes. Then place some caramelized onions and top with an eggplant slice. Bake in the preheated oven for 5-7 minutes or till the cheese has melted and the bottom has browned. Remove from oven. Let cool slightly. Serve warm.