Don’t let yesterday’s bread go to waste. Repurpose it into vegan croutons made in the air fryer for a crunchy & inviting salad topper.
We’re in the heyday of salads. Not only is the farmers market popping with the season’s best produce, the gardens of our friends and family are overflowing. (David and I don’t garden. We have loads of deer, raccoons, squirrels, and groundhogs as neighbors. So our past gardening efforts have been brief and literally fruitless.)
Lucky for us, we’ve been getting unexpected but very welcome deliveries of things like squash blossoms, kale, and tomatoes from loved ones who have an overabundance. (Plus, green tomatoes too! More on that in a future post.)
We have been eating salads aplenty, even more so than usual. As I mentioned in my post on how to make salads you’ll crave, the key to a really satisfying salad is having a variety of textures and flavors, plus at least one element that will keep you full.
One of my favorite salad toppers is croutons. Sure, you could buy boxed croutons, but why? The homemade version is so much more delicious and takes next to no work at all, especially with the aid of an air fryer.
Unlike store-bought croutons that are all crunch, homemade croutons have some give. You can break through the crackling exterior and get to a hint of softness underneath. They’re browned around the edges and crisp enough to add a satisfying texture. But they can still be pierced with a fork on your way to the avocado.
Plus, making croutons at home is a great way of repurposing leftover bread. Our grocery store has a stellar bakery, and we’re there multiple times a week buying a baguette made fresh that day. The long, crusty bread is used for classic tomato bruschetta, roasted asparagus bruschetta, slathering with homemade hummus, or dunking into olive oil and vinegar.
However, we are just a household of two humans. So despite how much more delicious fresh bread makes a meal, we always have bread left over. By repurposing it into homemade croutons, nothing goes to waste.
Air fryer croutons
Before I got an air fryer back in December, I always made these croutons in the oven. I’d simply put some parchment paper on a baking sheet, pop it in the oven, flip once, and done. (You can find oven directions in the notes of the recipe below.)
Making air fryer croutons is even less work. No pre-heating or parchment necessary. Just throw the cubes into the air fryer basket, and you’ll have hot croutons for your salad in five minutes.
They are flavored with extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, basil, oregano, salt, and pepper. That makes them an easy addition to almost any salad. They’d be perfect in a caprese salad while summer is still here. But they can also stand up to a kale salad without any trouble.