Crispy, Herby Potato Croutons Are Your Salad's New Best Friend

February 23, 2018

When I was little, I thought croutons were born in a box: perfect cubes that could crack your teeth if you weren’t careful. They might be garlicky, cheesy, or herby, but they always hailed from a supermarket shelf, and rarely found their way into my childhood pantry. My mom isn’t a crouton person. Even our extra-anchovy Caesar salads were always naked.

Eventually, I figured out that croutons aren’t born from boxes but, instead, bread. This was thrilling. And, inevitably, it led to a year of my life when I wanted croutons on absolutely everything. Cubed or torn, olive-oiled or buttered, minced garlic or granulated, black pepper or cayenne. I loved them all.

But phases wax and wane. The crouton year ended and now, several turns around the sun later, I am wading through another one: My first winter in the northeast in years and I can only think, think, think about potatoes. Say, what if you deconstructed mashed potatoes, and did a baked potato, smothered in white peppery milk gravy, sprinkled with chives? Or, replaced the curly noodles in macaroni and cheese with tater tots?

Shop the Story

It is here worth noting what kind of potato person I am: crispy. In other words, I never have and never will like mashed potatoes and please, before you say anything, remember that no one chooses what kind of potato person they are. It just happens.

Extra croutons for us, please. Photo by Julia Gartland

These potato croutons are crispy, just not that crispy, like those boxed jawbreakers. Their texture is crunchy-edged and fluffy-centered, same spirit as rustic bread—starchy Russets are key to this. The flavor, however, is an unabashed ripoff from the grocery store, where I scanned ingredient list after ingredient list to create my own: garlic and onion—only the dried variety will do here—with a smooch from parmesan on one cheek, another from parsley on the other.

They want to hop onto any salad, especially a Caesar, especially if there’s grilled fish. Like with bread, let them cool on the tray for a little while, so they don’t wilt the lettuce. And try not to eat them all before dinner.

What's your favorite way to eat potatoes? Share in the comments below!

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

Emma was the food editor at Food52. She created the award-winning column, Big Little Recipes, and turned it into a cookbook in 2021. These days, she's a senior editor at Bon Appétit, leading digital cooking coverage. Say hello on Instagram at @emmalaperruque.